As the finishing touches are made to the new foodbank, furniture bank and baby gear bank in Ilkeston, we speak to a user of the vital service.
Single mother-of-one Angela Proctor did not know where to turn when she found her cupboards were empty last week with no cash to fill them up.
The 39-year-old just could not afford to buy food and, when she arrived at the Arena’s foodbank on Monday, she had not eaten for two weeks.
Her daughter, 14, was getting a free meal a day at school, but the situation was desperate.
“I am working but it’s just the times are so hard at the minute,” she said. “Everything has gone up in price but my wages haven’t gone up.”
With no family or friends in around, she found the Arena.
“It’s a godsend,” she said. “It’s amazing to know there are people there to help when you need it most.”
In January the Arena’s new facility opens in Belfield Street, containing not just a dedicated space for the ever-expanding foodbank, which now has 700 recipients on the books, but also a place to receive furniture and baby goods.
The number of people using the service is up 110 per cent on last year and a large number are people in work but who cannot make ends meet.
They have to go through a rigorous interview process at before they are given a food parcel but they get a hot meal when they arrive.
The £10,000 spent on getting the 7,000 sq ft facility open was raised by church members and the Arena charity shop in Bath Street. All the work inside was done for free by volunteers.
But it needs Ilkeston’s support to help the project continue. They want to find 1,000 people in town willing to give £2 a month to help meet the estimated £15,000 running costs of the centre for the next year.
They are also looking to the town’s businesses to give £100 a month to support the foodbank.
Visit the church in Rutland Street to donate food or to help the new foodbank survive.