Salvation Army forced to turn people away from Hull centre as donations dry up
THE Salvation Army is being forced to send people away hungry for the first time in its history as donations dry up.
The charity, which helps scores of the city's homeless and most hard-up at its centre in Beverley Road, Hull, has been issuing food parcels for more than ten years.
But it says its cupboards are now bare as the recession has forced many East Yorkshire families to reel in their spending – including their support for charities.
Gwynneth Allman, 67, is one of the Christian charity's longest-serving volunteers and says she has even had doors slammed in her face while out collecting.
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She said: "I have had to turn people away who have wanted a food parcel.
"On Friday, our cupboards were absolutely bare.
"I can't ever remember it being this bad and I have been volunteering for most of my life.
"We desperately need help. We are not subsidised.
"We are having to turn people away as we have no stock other than a few tins our own church members bring each Sunday.
"Things are tight. These are difficult times for us all and we understand that. But we are talking here about people who literally have nothing.
"We are desperate for tinned food, pasta and clothing."
The plea comes as Hull Foodbank, based at Jubilee Church in King Edward Street, city centre, says its supplies are also running low, as reported in Friday's Mail.
In a bid to replenish stocks, Mrs Allman says the branch's 100 volunteers have delivered more than 4,000 flyers to homes, urging residents to give generously.
Mrs Allman, whose late father Arthur Mackinder was a sergeant major in the charity, said: "I'm afraid it hasn't had much of an effect. The help is just not there."
Nationally, The Salvation Army carries out a doorstep appeal each September.
"I have had doors slammed in my face," said Mrs Allman, of west Hull. "When I have asked politely if they would mind donating to our charity, some people have replied, 'absolutely not'.
"Other people have pretended they are not in."
Mrs Allman says she and other volunteers are leading by example, often digging into their own housekeeping money to buy items, but this cannot be sustained.
"The other day, we went to Asda to buy some tins of rice pudding for one of the lads who visits the centre," she said. "That's the only thing he can keep down. He's ill.
"Volunteers are regularly having to buy items themselves because donations from the wider public are not coming in."
Mrs Allman said the charity provides food parcels for about 15 homeless people each week, in addition to providing hot meals five days a week and tea and coffee at its centre.
She said: "We have a charity shop within the centre and the money we receive from this is meant to help pay for the food, but the clothing is not coming in.
Mrs Allman said the charity is desperate for jeans, tracksuit bottoms, T-shirts and underwear for the homeless.
Major Stuart Barker, manager of the centre, stressed the centre is still able to provide hot meals for the most needy.
However, he said it is a concern that demand for services has grown significantly in recent months, while the amount being donated is dwindling.
Major Barker, who says many other Christian charities are also struggling to make ends meet, said: "Demand has more than doubled in the past 18 months.
"We were providing about 20 meals a day for some of Hull's most vulnerable people.
"Now, on a Wednesday, which tends to be our busiest day, we feed 55 people or more."
Major Barker urged people to help his team of volunteers by giving them spare, non-perishable food and clothing.
He said warm clothing is becoming the most pressing need as the nights draw in.
Major Barker said: "No one leaves our centre without clothing if they need it.
"But they are not getting what they need. So, for example, they might get a T-shirt when what they really need is a coat.
"We are especially after tracksuits and jeans in small sizes. A lot of homeless people are run-down and have lost weight. They need clothes that fit."