A VITAL Southend food bank could be forced to close within a month unless thousands of pounds are raised to help feed struggling families.

Demand at the Southend Communities Outreach Group Food Bank, based in the Balmoral Community Centre, has soared over the last year as residents battle through the cost-of-living crisis.

Now, the volunteer-run organisation is at risk of closing without financial support and donations.

The food bank currently supplies roughly 100 vulnerable residents with food on a weekly basis.

Bosses believe £30,000 is needed to secure the long-term future of the site, with £3,200 required per month to run the organisation.

Shirley O’Reilly, 62, manager of the food bank, said: “We are desperate but don’t have the time to bid for any funding.


“We may be closing in March and need at least £800 a week to keep going, we buy some food and get some donations.

“We are very worried; we have 500 people on our books and an additional 90 we deliver food too - all those people would lose out if we close down.

“We’ve set up online funding pages and any donations of money or food will help keep us going. It will cost about £30,000 to keep us going for a year.

“We’ve had a lot of small amounts of funding and need help with entering bids and also entering a bid to become a charity.”

The food bank was set up during the Covid pandemic and was originally run by South Essex Homes until Ms O’Reilly took it over in September 2020.

It offers help to a range of different people, including the homeless and those struggling to make ends meet whilst working.

Ms O’Reilly added: “People can access us easily and don’t need to be referred or anything like that.

“If we close it’s going to have a big impact on people who use the service. Anyone who can please donate to help us stay open.

“It doesn’t matter how much or how little, any donations are a help and we wouldn’t have had them before.”

The food bank is run entirely by volunteers.

It has had some help from shops and businesses but the foodbank boss is pleading for extra donations of money and food supplies.

To donate, visit gofundme.