Thousands of Londoners rely on food banks to help them out when times are tough.

Some have delays to their benefits, others are on low pay or are off work and not earning enough in sick pay to feed themselves or their children.

Wandsworth Food Bank was set up in 2013, and each year the team there has helped more and more people – 2018/19 was yet another record-breaking year.

In 2018/19, 5,770 three-day emergency supplies of food and other essentials were handed out to people in need.

This is an increase of 78% on five years ago.

Wandsworth Food Bank manager Dan Frith oversees the operation that has become so vital for so many people.

He said: “When we first started, we never pictured we would be needed for this long.

“We still want to see ourselves as temporary. We don’t want to be the safety net in terms of replacing statutory services.”

Data released this week by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan suggests almost two million Londoners struggle to afford enough food, and more than one in four parents in the city have struggled to put sufficient food on the table in the last year.

This is reflected in Wandsworth Food Bank’s own research: more than one third (37%) of food supplies went to feed children.

For their parents, these supplies were a lifeline.

A huge part of the food bank’s work, apart from simply handing out food, is “signposting” people to other services and letting them know about help they are entitled to.

“We are not the solution to the problems people are facing. We are here to provide help in the short term,” said Dan.

“But we might know people and services who can help longer term, so we can point them in their direction.

“A lot of people say to me ‘I hope I never see you again, in a nice way’, which is weird. But that would mean their problems had been fixed.

“Maybe they would have got that job they were going for, or something else.”

Dan’s team of 249 volunteers sorts through a tonne of food every single week that has been donated by members of the public.

They put in more than 10,000 hours of volunteer work last year.

Dan said: “I think we would all like to be part of a society that really treats everyone well and looks after the more vulnerable people, and is built on justice and compassion – the principles that the welfare system was built on.

“We are really happy to be here while we are needed. In a way I see us as the safety net for the safety net, because that first net has gaps that people fall through all too often.”