WINCHESTER Basics Bank that helps people in emergency need has seen its workload rise steeply last year.

The bank has become a last resort for hundreds of people struggling financially.

Since May 2018 it has been operating seven days a week, up from five, according to its annual report.

Demand is so high that St Peter’s Roman Catholic church is helping by storing 200 crates of food. The bank reports that in 2018 it served food and clothing for 1,411 people, up 11 per cent on the previous 12 months.

Most people only needed help once but a small number were helped on up to eight occasions. Reasons for going included delays in receiving benefits, loss of a job and sickness.

The report said the bank has improved its facilities by buying two industrial fridges and better shelving. It is looking to move its base from Highcliffe closer to the city centre, and to larger premises where food and clothing can be stored in one place.

As the workload increased so did income up to £126,826 from £76,264 in 2017. Expenditure was up from £88,324 to £110,775.

A fundraising campaign last year generated £54,016 compared to £17,504 in 2017.

The bank is an ecumenical Christian charity that was established in 2004. Its main base is in Milland Road, Highcliffe with two satellite branches in St Barnabas in Weeke and St Luke’s church in Stanmore. It has around 70 volunteers.

Mike Slinn, chairman, told the annual general meeting: “We incurred costs some £10,000 greater than our income in 2016 and 2017. This was not a situation that was sustainable and so we initiated a fundraising campaign in 2018. This campaign has been successful and has enabled the recovery of the monetary deficits of those previous two years. We now have sufficient funds for us to plan for the challenges of the future with confidence.”