Last week we looked at one of two of Bridport mayor’s chosen charities, Burrough Harmony Centre.

This week, we will look at how the other charity chosen by Cllr Ian Bark, Cupboard Love food bank, has coped during the coronavirus pandemic.

Carrie Gamble, co-ordinator for Cupboard Love, said they had seen the number of people accessing the service, based at St Mary’s Church in South Street, ‘jump dramatically’.

“One day in March we gave out double what we normally do and some weeks it has been 50 per cent higher.

“We’ve had to move really quickly with the changes because it was not something we could sit back and think about, people needed food quick. We very much had to think on our feet.

“The first week of lockdown we did ask people to come and collect, we didn’t let them in to the church because it was closed, so we handed out pre-packed bags but people in those early stages weren’t very good at socially distancing so we stopped that after one week and moved to delivery.. We are going to revert back to people coming to collect from the church door.”

The team also had to immediately set up a dedicated telephone line for referrals, which normally come from Citizens Advice, but the office was closed.

The reasons for people going to the food bank have also changed since lockdown.

Carrie added: “It’s very, very different. We’ve got people coming because they have lost their jobs, they were furloughed but have now lost their jobs because the employers are having to start paying soon, or their hours have been reduced.

“We’re planning - hopefully it won’t happen - for a bit of a spike in August and September a the furlough goes down and people have been using their savings. People are only coming to us when they really need to.

“We have got quite a few people who are self-employed who for whatever reason slipped through the Government’s net. We had quite a few people who have suddenly had their children at home and some were getting free school meals.

“There is a lot of single people. Of course, if you are a single person, it is much harder to get reasonable accommodation at a reasonable price. If it is just you and you lose your job, it’s much harder.”

The food bank has also been helping schools while open to vulnerable children and those of key workers by sending food when children arrive without lunch.

The team has also praised the local community which has been ‘amazing and incredibly generous’, as well as a number of local businesses offering their support, including the supermarkets.

Carrie said: “We have had the most extraordinary amount of donations.

“People have been very generous; we have requests of how they can donate money as they usually put food in the basket but are shielding.”

But the team is in need of funding is storage, especially as St Mary’s Church - where they have been storing all the donated food - will be opening again. They have three office cupboards at the church and have taken to organising food on the pews.

Carrie added: “We have identified a space we can put a shed that will be easily accessible for us and that will be just for storage, but of course it needs to be of high spec because we’re storing food in it. It needs to be pest proof, secure and then there’s all the bits that go with it such as shelving, electricity and foundations.

“The shed is going to cost around £3,000.”

A computer is also needed for Cupboard Love for users’ details.