WITH the pandemic driving unemployment up and making everyday life more challenging for some, more people than ever in Dorset are relying on food aid.

If you are in a position to help and want to support your local food bank this Christmas, there are a variety of ways to help.

Donating food is a great place to start.

Volunteer at Hope For Food, Kathy Moore said: "Food donations must be non-perishables, such as sweet and savoury biscuits, various tinned items including fruit, vegetables and meat, jam, baked beans, rice pudding, custard, jellies, and sweets.

"However, poverty isn’t just for Christmas. We support 120 to 130 families every week, but when Christmas is over people think that their job is done and nothing else needs to be donated. January and February can be tough months as donations decrease."

Although donating food is greatly appreciated, people can go even further to support the charity.

Kathy said: "We have a variety of volunteer roles - from putting food parcels together to making and serving food at one of our Community Meals, which happen twice a week - that people can apply for.

"Also, businesses can agree to be drop off points for us, which is useful as some people are unable to reach our unit in West Howe. We are always looking for more places to be drop-off points.

"Those who want to volunteer with us can email volunteer@hopeforfood.org.uk."

The Faithworks Poole staff and volunteers have worked with over 5500 people this year, aiding them as they sought help with food, debt, homelessness, addiction or simply how to be a great lone parent.

A spokesperson said: "People of goodwill have been amazingly generous in giving for example, food to foodbank collection boxes throughout the year – but here are three ways that people could help right now (and indeed beyond Christmas).

"You can donate toiletries, new underwear and socks to Hope Housing 10 St Swithuns Road, BH1 3RQ, who is collecting for the whole homelessness partnership.

"Donate food for those in emergency accommodation."

This can be done by buying something from Faithworks' Amazon wishlist, 'Faithworks: BCARS Food Items'.

The spokesperson added: "People can buy amazing gifts made by ex-rough sleepers through the online Doorstop shop."