Northern Devon Foodbank has been dealing with a ‘unprecedented’ surge in demand and is bracing for even greater need as the furlough scheme ends this October.

Northern Devon Foodbank volunteers hard at work.Northern Devon Foodbank volunteers hard at work.

An officer at the charity said it was more like the 1900s workhouse era than 2020.

Since lockdown began in March in response to the coronavirus pandemic, its foodbanks in Holsworthy, Ilfracombe, South Molton, Barnstaple and Bideford have seen an ever-increasing need for food parcels for local families hit by hardship.

As a result of the increased demand, Northern Devon Foodbank has also added Lynton and Lynmouth to its patch.

But it has also seen a brilliant response from local people offering their services as volunteers as well as generous donations, including one from housing association LiveWest, which has stepped in with some financial support as part of a £22,000 donation for food banks across the South West.

Volunteers have been coming forward to help out at Northern Devon Foodbank branches.Volunteers have been coming forward to help out at Northern Devon Foodbank branches.

A plea for volunteers through Facebook – as many vulnerable helpers were shielding – saw a great response from many younger people who were furloughed and seeking ways to help.

Northern Devon treasurer Sue Beer said: “The public have been fantastic, and I can’t believe how generous people are, especially when they are short of money themselves.

“LiveWest gave us a fantastic donation as soon as we went into lockdown which was gratefully received.

“We are indebted to LiveWest and all of the other organisations who have helped us during these challenging times.”

Stephen Roberts at work at Northern Devon Foodbank.Stephen Roberts at work at Northern Devon Foodbank.

But she said: “I wish I could say that there is no longer a need for food banks. But in 2020 demand has never been higher and it feels like we are back in the 1900s when we had workhouses.

“People are genuinely struggling to afford the basics because of the impact of Covid-19, with jobs going and people having less money in their pocket.

“We have seen a huge spike in demand for our services and we are lucky in that we have a great group of volunteers who have rallied to support those most in need.

“These really are unprecedented times and more and more people need us right now.

“But we can’t sit on our laurels as we are expecting the winter months to be hard, with the furlough scheme coming to an end and people getting laid off.

“There is also talk of a second spike of the virus, so we are already preparing for another increase in demand.”

To donate to Northern Devon Foodbank or find out more, go to