A PHENOMENAL 60,000 meals were given to families and residents struggling for survival last year.

A community foodbank has reported its ‘busiest year ever’ looking after adults of all ages and children across Knutsford and Handforth.

Emergency food parcels were distributed by Hope Central, a Christian charity run by 90 dedicated volunteers.

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The rising cost of living, soaring energy bills, relationship breakdowns, unemployment and mental health problems caused people to seek urgent help.

Figures are up 10,000 on the previous year.

Ian Robertson, a trustee of Hope Central, said: “Some are working and have jobs but just can’t manage to make ends meet.”

Hope Central now has more space to help people facing a crisis.

The team has moved into a new home at St Cross Church in Knutsford.

The foodbank, weekly social event and all their support activities and courses now take place on Mobberley Road.

Rev Paul Deakin, vicar of St Cross, said: “Whilst our desire is to have a society where foodbanks and other support activities are not a necessity, as Christians we have a call to serve and help our neighbours in times of need.

“We are so pleased to support the work of Hope Central in this way."

Ian said: “We are so grateful to the church family at St Cross for providing this wonderful facility for us to work in and from.

“We have felt welcome and at home from the day that we moved in.”

The charity is striving to help people trapped in a spiral of debt transform their lives.

Ian said: “We eliminated £160,000 worth of debt for 10 households last year.

“People have told us the work we’ve done has changed their lives.

“We want to provide them with assistance to find their own way out of poverty.”

A debt centre, with support from Christians Against Poverty, job club and courses on money coaching and life skills are giving people skills to become more independent.

The charity also offers Hope Centre, a weekly social group on Monday from 10am to 12.30pm.

Ian said: “We meet a lot of lonely people.

“This is a chance for people to come along have tea, coffee and sandwich and cake and a chat.

“They can get some warmth if they find it hard to heat their home.”

Hope Central wants to say a big thank you to everyone who supports the foodbank.

Ian said: “We could not do any of this work without our existing volunteers and supporters.

“They include local churches, schools, businesses, supermarkets, cafes, lovely choirs, beer festivals, charitable organisations and the multitude of individuals who give so freely of their talents, time, money and food donations.”

However, as demand for the foodbank continues to grow, the charity is keen to establish financial security for the future.

To donate visit hopecentral.org.uk and for information call 07942 361611 or email infor@hopecentral.org.uk

Ian said: ”What we really need money.

“One off cash donations are much appreciated and we would encourage supporters to become regular ‘Hope Givers’.

“This would give us consistent income stream so we will be here to provide serves for as long as we are needed.”