The chair of the Helensburgh and Lomond Foodbank says families in the area are “visibly upset and angry” at having to turn to the service for help.

Mary McGinley spoke to the Advertiser after recently revealing figures that show the number of children needing help from the food bank has soared by 80 per cent year-on-year.

The overall increase in use of the food bank is around 29 per cent.

In all, 1,423 children were supported in the year ending in October last year, amongst nearly 5,000 people locally.

Most are single householders who can’t make ends meet.

And Ms McGinley wants to make sure those in need understand that it is their neighbours helping them through their donations.

She said: “For people who have never had to come to a food bank before, there’s a sense of failure.

“They are upset to find themselves in need of a food bank. We see people visibly upset, some might feel a bit angry.

“Some cannot even come through the door.

“That’s what we are here for - to help people. We are just sharing the food your neighbours have been able to give to share to you.

“Don’t feel you have failed to be here. We understand with certain levels of income and current costs of living, it’s very difficult to make ends meet.

“We know you’re here because you have to be, not because you want to be.”

READ MORE: Number of children helped by Helensburgh and Lomond Foodbank nearly doubles in 12 months 

Ms McGinley said the food inflation rate is 17.1 per cent, so it was little surprise those on lower incomes were struggling.

She said they were “very well supported” by the community through donations of food and money, with which to making bulk food purchases every couple of months.

But the £1,800 they spent in November, and £1,800 most recently, did not stretch as far.

Cereal, for example, was up 32p when bought in bulk.

“If we can see that so strikingly, it must be hitting people’s pockets terribly,” she said.

“I really don’t know what the government is thinking sitting on their hands. They say their priority is to get inflation down, which is all well and good, but people were using food banks before.

“It’s not just from inflation. It’s the reality of people living on low wages and stagnant benefits.”

She added that the food bank’s team thought Covid would be their peak demand, but over nine years, they have seen need increase every year – even after the pandemic.

Every week they give out 76 boxes of food, with enough to feed a household for about five days.

They also direct those in need to support and advice services, as well as having information now printed in Ukrainian to help refugees who have come to live in the town.

“It’s a huge amount of food,” said Ms McGinley. “The giving is necessary because we are putting out 76 boxes. We constantly need to replenish that supply.

“We need people to continue supporting us and we greatly appreciate the fact that they do. And we need to see more and better advice services for people.

“There are clearly people coming to us that need more cash-first options.”

The drop-in for the food bank is Monday mornings from 10am to noon and Thursdays from 3pm to 7pm at the Community Hub in East Princes Street.

They are also at the Howie Pavilion in Rosneath on Wednesdays from 1pm to 3pm.