BLACKBURN Foodbank had its busiest month in July after a surge in demand because of the school holidays.

The number of people who used the Brunswick Street service rocketed from 714 in June to 945 in July – an increase of more than 32 per cent.

Foodbank providers in Burnley and Rossendale have also noticed a rise in demand since East Lancashire schools broke up for summer in mid-July.

Ros Duerden, from Blackburn Foodbank, said July’s numbers represented the fourth consecutive monthly rise in meal claimants.

And the figure of 945 people helped last month was up almost 50 per cent from the 637 people who used it in July 2013.

She said: “We are certainly supplying families throughout the summer who are struggling without their free school meals.

“We have 12 categories and the ones which we are seeing more of are related to benefits changes, debt, children’s meals and the ‘other’ category.

“Benefits delays and low income requests have actually fallen. More people from Darwen are in contact with us now as well.”

The Blackburn Foodbank, operated by the Trussell Trust, has now handed out meals to 11,810 people since it was set up in November 2012.

Caroline Collins, from the Raft Foundation, in Rossendale, said: “In the last couple of weeks, as we did during the Easter holidays, we have seen an increase. Even last week we have had more than the three weeks before that.

“We supplied 1,090 meals last week, when it had been fewer than 1,000 for a few weeks. But it’s still not our highest, which was almost 1,400 just after Christmas.

“We have had three street homeless people referred to us recently, and we’ve helped two back into accommodation.”

The Rawtenstall-based organisation is appealing for school uniforms, sleeping bags and rucksacks.

Community Solutions North West, which helps families in Hyndburn, Burnley, Pendle, Rossendale and the Ribble Valley, has recently relocated its warehouse to a larger site in Trafalgar Street, Burnley.

Paul Gott, who works in its office, said: “The feeling here is that we have had a seasonal increase, which is something do expect at this time of year.”