Warminster Foodbank has seen a huge rise in the number of people needing its help.

In the year leading up to the end of March, it saw a 71 per cent rise in children and an 82 per cent in adults needing food hand-outs to stave off hunger.

The charity, started as a community project by Warminster Churches Together, also covers Westbury and Frome, and provided food for 1,015 children and 1,799 adults, compared to 594 children and 998 adults the previous year.

The main reasons given by those seeking help are delays to benefit payments and the recent changes in the benefits system but there was also a 406 per cent rise in individuals and families giving low income as the reason for turning to the charity.

Manager Margaret MacDonald said: “Benefit payment delay, an initial claim or reporting a change of circumstances, may result in benefits being stopped for eight weeks or longer – pushing families and individuals into crisis with literally no money for food.”

Jean Colgrave, a Foodbank trustee, said: “We’ve had a lot of support from the community and a number of supermarkets who have helped us by providing donation points, places where local people can leave food for us to pick up.”

Those in need are referred to the Foodbank by health, care and charity professionals, who issue vouchers that can be exchanged for a minimum of three days food. This typically includes rice, pasta, tinned fruit and soups.

A former client of the charity, who asked not to be named, said: “I was overwhelmed by how kind they were at supporting us when I had nothing to eat. My partner lost his job and there was a delay in benefit payments.”

She is no longer in crisis and now brings in donations.

To make a donation, visit www.warminster.foodbank.org.uk