CHARITIES have appealed to kind-hearted residents in southern Oxfordshire to help them out and make sure nobody goes hungry this Christmas.

Thames Valley FareShare, based in Didcot, is calling on people to get into the festive spirit and volunteer or donate supplies as it seeks to organise it's 'biggest ever food collection' to help cope with rising demand.

It comes after one food bank charity in the area reported a huge rise in demand for its services this year.

Richard Kennell, the chief executive of the organisation which supplies surplus food to 130 charities, said it was seeing an increase in demand 'across the board' and clients, which include homeless shelters, children’s breakfast clubs, and domestic violence refuges, are 'all extremely busy'.

Recent changes in the benefits system, school holidays and continuing problems with low wages will make things particularly difficult for people at Christmas, Mr Kennell added.

He said: "For some people, without this support, Christmas simply wouldn't happen for them.

"For others it allows them to access healthier food that they couldn't afford otherwise.

"It can be a difficult time of year and we can provide some relief from that by supplying food.

"If we can help make it easier for parents to buy presents for their children and enjoy a treat, then that feels like a Christmassy thing to do."

The charity is organising food collections at Tesco stores in Didcot, Abingdon and Oxford between Thursday, November 30, and Saturday, December 2, and is urgently appealing for shoppers to donate cupboard essentials.

Volunteers are also needed to help organise the collections by signing up for a three hour shift.

Much of FareShare's supplies are excess from the food and drink industry, that would otherwise go to waste if it was not collected by the organisation.

Most of it is fresh and expires quickly, so food that can be used all year round is needed such as pasta, rice, tea and tins of tomatoes.

Mr Kennell said: "We live in one of the most affluent parts of the country so we should be able to work out a way to ensure everyone can have a good Christmas and a decent standard of living."

Earlier this year Didcot Food Bank revealed it was having to buy in food after a summer which saw double the number of people needing supplies compared to the previous two years.

Food was given out to 199 people in August, compared to 2015 and 2016 when 93 and 96 packages were given out respectively.

Andrew Snell, who organises the food bank, said the latest projections are that up to 2,000 people will use it this year.

The stores were left bare after the unprecedented summer but harvest festivals have helped to replenish stocks.

The government's new universal credit system, which simplifies four existing benefits into one payment, was introduced for all new claims in Oxfordshire last month.

But some applicants are facing waits of six weeks before any money is received, increasing financial pressures in the run-up to Christmas.

Sarah Fry, joint co-ordinator of the Abingdon Emergency Food Bank, said it was still too early to tell what the full impact of the changes will be but described her service as 'always busy'.

The food bank is hoping to offer Christmas hampers with puddings and mince pies for its users and is also aiming to help more people cope with the demands of the season.

Ms Fry said: "There's a lot of expectations about what this time of year should be like.

"It is a hard time to be struggling, particularly if you have a family.

"Our job is to try and make sure they have the best Christmas possible.

"We work with people who have nothing.

"I can't imagine what position they would be in if we weren't here."

To get involved with Fare Share visit

For more information about Abingdon Emergency Food Bank visit