Bognor feels the squeeze as cost of living goes up

With the price of groceries and fuel on the rise, it’s Bognor’s most vulnerable people feeling the squeeze.

"A lot of people are just not able to make ends meet,” said Clare Ockwell, deputy manager of the Bognor Regis foodbank.

"We try not to build dependence, but we will have people who come say once a month, and we have to pay their rent or their big bills. Because that’s the only way they can make ends meet.”

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The foodbank, on Argyle Road, opens every Tuesday and Friday. Even though it can only support residents with the foodbank vouchers, Mrs Ockwell said demand has increased by ‘almost a third’ in recent months, as the cost of living has soared.

Food Banks in Bognor Regis are feeling the squeeze

The national crisis has, Mrs Ockwell said, exacerbated a number of long-running institutional problems for Bognor’s most vulnerable people: "The benefits system does not help people,” she explained. "The number of people who have long waits or are trying to manage on stupidly small amounts of money is just ridiculous.”

Rising costs also means residents are less willing to part with their goods, leading to a downturn in vital donations:

“I’m sure it’s partly because people have less to spend and partly, probably, because people are sending stuff to Ukraine. It’s just been so high in the news and people’s gut reaction is to converge on the biggest thing.

"We’re running low on soup and we’ve never been short on soup. We’re low on basics like tinned meat, puddings, fish. And whatever we get fresh we give away on the day.”

Steve Brunton runs a very different operation at the Jeneses Community Centre, on Linden Road, but has reported very similar problems.

The volunteer-led foodbank opens every other day and Mr Brunton said they are regularly ‘wiped out’ of stock.

Part of Mr Brunton's stock comes from nearby supermarkets, who offload fresh baked goods at the end of the day. Curiously, the rising cost of goods, means he’s getting his hands on more premium items – like pastries and french bread – than usual, because people are reluctant to buy them up.

Even so, he continues to feel the squeeze: “We’re getting wiped out now, and that wasn’t happening before,” he said.