A PLEA for urgent food donations which will be used to feed record-breaking amounts of hungry people relying on handouts from foodbanks in the town has been issued in the run-up to Christmas Day.

Foodbank usage has increased greatly over the past two years as the cost-of-living remains high - and an appeal has been launched to

According to latest analysis, 2022 saw a 16 per cent increase in demand in Barnsley, with two-thirds of all food parcels being sent to families with children.

Mid-year statistics for this year are also at ‘record-breaking’ levels, with the coming weeks set to be the busiest yet.

Charity bosses believe the situation is unlikely to change with the ‘stark’ new data leading them to forecast that foodbanks in their network will distribute more than a million emergency food parcels nationally between this month and February - the equivalent of providing a parcel every eight seconds this winter.

Barnsley Foodbank Partnership launched their ‘25 Days of Foodbank Advent Challenge’, which encourages members of the community to donate items that they are in need of in the run-up to Christmas.

It has been backed by Barnsley East MP Stephanie Peacock, who urged residents to donate.

“As we approach Christmas, I know that many people across Barnsley are feeling generous and thinking of others less fortunate than them,” she said.

“Barnsley Foodbank Partnership have launched their ‘25 Days of Advent Challenge’ to provide some suggestions of the items that they need.

“If you are able to do so, please consider donating to this worthy cause.”

Figures show 4,092 emergency food parcels were handed out between April and September across Barnsley, with 1,264 children receiving help.

Items such as cereals, rice, tinned products, long-life milk, biscuits and juice have been asked for.

“Families in Barnsley and across the country are struggling under the strain of poverty and food insecurity,” Ms Peacock added.

“Over 15,000 children live in poverty in Barnsley and foodbanks reported a 46 per cent rise in children needing food parcels.

“In Barnsley East, 25 per cent of under-15s live in poverty - this is a shocking statistic, a quarter of children in our local area are growing up in poverty.

“Regional inequalities in poverty like these are more likely to have detrimental impacts on children’s mental and physical health, education, and prospects of moving out of poverty in the future.

“Families who were struggling before the cost-of-living crisis are unable to cut costs any more than they already have.

“People with no previous police records are being caught stealing food and other essentials.

“We know that to reduce food poverty, we need to reduce overall poverty rates.

“I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone at the foodbank for everything they do at Christmas and all year round to look after members of the community.”