CHARITY workers came to the rescue of a penniless man who trudged for more than five hours through snowdrifts along the treacherous A24 – only to be told by Worthing Job Centre staff “your benefit’s been stopped”.
Hungry, tired and frozen, the desperate, homeless 58-year-old, who had been living for months in a tent at Washington, was advised to visit Worthing Foodbank, which handed out emergency aid to people with nowhere else to turn.
Foodbank staff based at the distribution centre in Crescent Road also paid for the man’s bus fare back to his tent and gave him a spare sleeping bag, extra rations, clothes, and money for heating.
The man said: “I wasn’t expecting anything like that. I felt overwhelmed.
“It makes you appreciate people more. I would say their help was more than a lifeline.”
After days of freezing temperatures and heavy snow, which caused his tent to cave in, he set off on foot from Washington at 7am to sign on in Worthing, and arrived at 12.30pm.
The man said: “It was dangerous. There are hardly any pavements. My feet and hands were frozen. I have never felt so cold in all my life.
“Then they said my money, £65 a week, had been stopped because I wasn’t looking hard enough for work.
“I was desperate. I didn’t have money, even for a cup of tea.
“At the job centre a woman told me about the Foodbank and gave me a voucher. I didn’t know anything about it before then.”
Foodbank staff handed him tins of food, plus sugar and tea, and, after learning of his plight, the bus fare “home”.
Julie Denyer, manager of the Foodbank, which was founded by the Worthing-based Jubilee Church, said: “This story is one of many we hear of people who are in real crisis.
“But Foodbank cannot run without financial help.
“We need companies which will support us by making Foodbank their charity of the year, groups or businesses to organise fundraising events, or individuals who can help us by setting up a standing order for as little as £2 a month.
“If 250 Worthing residents pledged £2 a month the Foodbank would be able to finance itself.”
Volunteers collected donated tins and packets of basic foodstuffs from superstores around the town including Sainsbury’s, Lyons Farm, and Tesco, West Durrington, where they will again be on January 8.
A maximum of three vouchers a year were issued to the same person to safeguard the system from abuse.
For more information, contact Julie on 01903 821921 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also download a standing order form from www.food-bank.co.uk