A NEW distribution centre for Bournemouth Foodbank has launched at a church in Boscombe.

Volunteers led by Reverend Sue Gowling at St George’s Church on Haviland Road will provide food donated by the community to residents in need of support.

Manager of Bournemouth Foodbank Debbie Bramley said the service will be a valuable addition to the project which is run from Charminster and helps 250 people a week.

“There are some very lonely people in Boscombe who are isolated from the rest of the community,” she said.

“One had just come out of a violent relationship and because she was part of a joint benefits claim was told it would take six weeks to process a new one.

“It made her doubt whether leaving her abusive marriage was the right thing to do.”

However, Ms Bramley was keen to point out that people from wide-ranging backgrounds use the service, including those with full-time jobs who have been landed with unexpected bills or fallen behind on loan repayments.

Only care professionals such as social workers and doctors are able to issue Foodbank vouchers, and Ms Bramley said she wanted to address the misconception that benefits claimants are abusing the system.

She added: “Welfare reform has really hit people hard and we have seen an increase in demand since April.”

Rev Gowling said she was delighted the church was in a position to offer facilities to help people in crisis, but stressed she is non-political and her only agenda is to help the hungry.

She added: “This is the first time since the war that the Red Cross have had to distribute food to hungry people in this country. What does that say about the world we are living in?”