THE number of people using Stourbridge's food bank has doubled over the past two years.

Figures show a depressing trend as more people become reliant on the service.

Benefit cuts and delays remain the main cause of the increase with no sign of an improvement in sight.

Organiser Pat Johnson has been at the forefront of Stourbridge's Foodbank for the past eight years and claimed: "I don't want to get political, but the need seems to be getting greater and sometimes it becomes very difficult to remain detached.

"Yes, you will always get some who take advantage of people's generosity, but for the vast majority of people who come here, they are in great need.

"What is becoming increasingly worrying is the fact we are seeing more families in need.

"Some of the single mums we see are amazing. They tell you they haven't eaten for two days in order to feed their children. Lack of food is sometimes only one of many problems.

"We've had certain people who come to us getting really upset and saying, 'I never thought it would come to this - having hand-outs of food'; they feel it's the end of the road. It's just amazingly sad and you feel so frustrated that you can't do anymore."

The Stourbridge Foodbank has been running a pilot scheme for the past two months by having an officer from Dudley Social Welfare in attendance every Monday and alternate Fridays to help with benefit problems.

Pat said: "I've never been to the job centre, but I get the impression they don't have the time to listen to people's stories. Sometimes people get into debt of their own making, but it has become such a serious issue now and I believe a debt counselling service is set to start in Stourbridge.

"At the moment we can just about meet the demand. People have been so kind donating food through their schools, banks, building societies and churches. We also have people popping in to make financial donations. I can't thank them enough, because never has the need been greater.

"However I remain concerned that we don't seem to see many people in their 60s and 70s using the food bank and that is a worry if they are choosing between heating and eating."

The Foodbank, which is situated at St John's Church, St John's Road, is open from 10am to noon every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.