UNDER pressure foodbanks that are struggling to cope during the coronavirus emergency and looming economic crisis have been given a boost by a leading housebuilder.

Devizes & District Foodbank, which reported a 50 per cent increase in demand at the height of the crisis, has been given £1,000 along with Swindon Food Collective. It now fears many more families will be affected by job losses in the wake of the pandemic.

David Wilson Homes, which is developing at Mill Brook in Westbury and Lay Wood in Devizes, and Barrett which is building in Swindon, has stepped in with much-needed funds so the volunteer-run foodbanks can increase their support.

Liz Starling, project manager for Devizes & District Foodbank said: “The coronavirus outbreak has hit some of the poorest people in our communities hardest and, like other local food banks, we’ve seen a huge surge in demand for food parcels over the past few months.

“Our volunteer teams are working tirelessly to ensure that we have the necessary stocks to respond to this crisis.

“In April alone we gave out 102 emergency food boxes, of which 57 were to families with children, - that is an increase of 50 per cent over the same period last year.

“We want to say a big thank you to Barratt and David Wilson Homes for these generous donations which mean we will be able to continue to respond to the fast-changing situation and provide the lifeline of emergency food and additional support for people in crisis.”

Cher Smith manager of Swindon Food Collective said: “One lady of 77 years rang for help recently as she had just eaten the last of her frozen vegetables and didn’t know how to get any more food.

Even though coronavirus lockdowns are lifting the foodbanks say they are still dealing with the devastating impact the virus has had on the economy and jobs.

Foodbanks are continuing to see a huge increase in demand, with the Trussell Trust reporting an 81 per cent increase in demand for emergency food parcels compared to the same period last year, including a 122 per cent rise in parcels going to children.

A spokesman urged the government to do more to help. They said: “People who are currently unable to afford food and other essentials – and those who are going to fall in to this situation as the economic crisis continues to unfold – need an urgent boost to social security so they have enough to stay afloat.”

Louise Ware, sales director at David Wilson Homes South West said: “As well as building much-needed new homes, we believe in building and supporting local communities. We’re pleased to make a contribution to support people living near our Wiltshire developments.”

One of those who has risen to the challenge to help is Connor West, 10, who lives in Devizes and goes to Chirton Primary. He collected food from neighbours to help Devizes Foodbank as part of a challenge badge for Melksham St John’s Badgers.

He set up a food drop zone near his home and collected more than 200 items. He said: “Please keep supporting our food banks, they really need it.”