Foodbank use across Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire has increased dramatically over the past six months, new figures reveal.

A total of 4,190 three-day emergency food supplies were provided to people in crisis by Renfrewshire Foodbank between April 1 and September 30.

This is significantly higher than the 3,038 packages handed out in the same period in 2016.

And it was a similar scenario in East Renfrewshire, where foodbank bosses issued 1,655 three-day emergency packages between April and September, compared to 1,364 for that six-month period last year.

The Trussell Trust, which operates foodbanks across the country, believes the local increase is due to people struggling with issues such as benefit cuts.

Other reasons include Universal Credit roll out in the area, low wages and insecure work.

In the months leading to Christmas a number of factors, such as cold weather and high energy bills, or foodbanks and referral agencies ensuring that people who are likely to hit crisis have food ahead of Christmas Day, mean The Trussell Trust’s foodbank network traditionally sees a spike in foodbank use.

Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire Foodbanks are asking the community to help them prepare for their busiest time of year by donating urgently needed food items.

Elizabeth Alexander, manager of Renfrewshire Foodbank, said: “It’s really worrying that we are still seeing an increase in the need for emergency food.

“Every week, people are referred to us after something unavoidable – such as illness, a delayed benefit payment or an unexpected bill – meaning there’s no money for food.

“It’s only with the help of local people that we’re able to provide vital support when it matters most.

“We hope, one day, there’ll be no need for our work but, until that day comes, we’ll be working hard to help prevent people going hungry.

“Thank you so much to everyone who already donates time, food and money to help local people.

“If you’re not already involved, we’d love to hear from you.”

Tony Graham, Scotland director at The Trussell Trust, said foodbanks are acting as “an unofficial charity safety net, attempting to catch people let down by a welfare system that should be there for vulnerable families when they need it most.”

He added: “In the first half of this year, a record number of people facing destitution and hunger have been referred to The Trussell Trust foodbank network.

“Foodbanks will be working hard to provide dignified, non-judgemental support to people but we are concerned that the ongoing impact of welfare reform, combined with increased demand we traditionally see over winter, will leave foodbanks struggling to feed everyone that comes through the doors.”