A MUM cycled for five miles through the pouring rain to collect a food parcel for her family in an act of "desperation".

Farnworth and Kearsley Foodbank have been helping a number of people through the pandemic, providing emergency food provisions to people in need.

One mum in the borough was so desperate to feed her family that her and her two young children set out on a five-mile round-trip on Tuesday to pick up enough food for a few days.

Mark Whittington, the manager of the foodbank, has seen a number of people stuck in the same desperate position.

He said: "This mum is just an example of the desperation that some people have experienced – no one wants to come to the food bank in the pouring rain with your two young children.

"This is literally a lifeline for some, often people are in tears or on the verge of tears – particularly if they're here for the first time.

"A single dad with three children came in for the first time on Tuesday and when we offered fresh food to him he said 'I don't want to take anything, someone else needs it' and I looked at him and said 'but you need it too don't you?'

"We see that embarrassment and shame, or people saying things like I never thought I'd have to come to a place like this, quite often.

"For some people it takes a lot to swallow their pride and admit they need help, they might have donated to charity in the past and it's amazing that they've been able to come here and ask for help."

Last year, the foodbank gave out 3,903 emergency food supplies, with each pack lasting three days.

Run by Farnworth Baptist Church, volunteers have been feeding those in need since November 2012, handing out almost 29,000 parcels in the eight years up to August last year.

Parcels can only be handed out to people who have been referred to the service by a partner.

Mr Whittington added: "December was particularly busy but it has carried on through into 2021.

"The idea of our foodbank is that we're helping people in an emergency crisis but we are finding that people are really struggling and they are having to come more than once or twice.

"We're seeing more people coming than would've normally needed help, last year 50 per cent of people had never been before, and we're seeing a different demographic of people.

"There are people that were self-employed and were living fairly comfortably and have lost the vast majority if not all of their work and have had to claim benefits to survive.

"That's been a struggle, particularly with universal credit payments taking five weeks to come through.

"We've also seen a lot of people on zero hours contracts and their work has completely disappeared and they've been put in a situation they never through they'd be in.

"Although we're continuing to see people struggling, we are really grateful that the public have stepped up in terms of generosity. Over 99 per cent of the food we give out is donated by the general public, it's quite heart warming."