THE number of people relying on East Renfrewshire’s foodbank is on the rise, with a further surge expected as Universal Credit arrives.

Volunteers at the Barrhead-based foodbank say this has been their busiest year yet as more and more families struggle to make ends meet.

And they have warned that imminent changes to the benefits system will not help.

The foodbank was established in 2013 and is supported by the Trussell Trust.

Based at St Andrew’s Church, it has provided free food to thousands of people over the last five years – and the demand keeps climbing.

Foodbank manager Stan Esson, 77, said: “Since we started, we’ve given out 2,374 single packages, 1,432 packages for couples, 1,576 to small families with one or two children and 1,033 to large families with five or more people in the house.

“Adding all that up, we’ve given out enough food for about 15,100 people and taken in over 120 tonnes in donations but we can see the numbers going up.

“More people are using the foodbank now than in previous years. It’s up about 10 to 15 per cent on last year. 

“Without doubt, people are finding it harder to get by now than five years ago.

“There was a time when no-one had ever heard of foodbanks but it’s part of modern society now and, sadly, I think they’re here to stay.

“The roll-out of Universal Credit will hit us. Some parts of Scotland already have it, like East Dunbartonshire, and we’ve seen the impact there. We expect to be even busier when that starts.”

East Renfrewshire Foodbank exists primarily to provide assistance and three days’ worth of nutritionally-balanced food to local people in poverty or crisis.

Recently, volunteers have also spoke at local schools to raise awareness of the struggles of people in poverty.

Donations are sought all year round, particularly items like fruit juice, tinned desserts, tinned fish and sugar, with permanent collection baskets located at the Tesco store in Barrhead and Waitrose in Newton Mearns.

Samantha Stapley, director of operations at the Trussell Trust, said: “Although our network will be doing all it can this summer to help families struggling to make the money they have stretch to cover the essentials, no charity can replace people having enough money for the basics.”