What started as a festive response to hardship has grown into a year-round food lifeline for hundreds.

In three years since its launch, Skipton Food Bank has expanded beyond anything the original organisers at Skipton Baptist Church in Otley Street could have imagined In September 2011, so big was the demand that it was launched as a year-long operation.

In 2013 it provided about 320 food hampers, plus an additional 85 Christmas parcels in December. This compares with 60 food hampers and ten Christmas parcels in 2012.

Contributions now come in from other congregations, individuals, schools and businesses.

When space became a problem, storage was offered by Dave Howson, boss of Skipton courier service Euro-Tran Despatch.

“We didn’t take long to accept,” said lead minister Lisa Holmes. “Thankfully we have a great team who pulled out all the stops to manage the situation.

“It is important we work with others to show we care about people who are going through difficult times.”

Hampers are packed by a team of volunteers and then passed to local agencies and organisations who deliver them to those they identify as in need. “We prefer to work this way as it ensures that those in need are receiving all the help they are entitled to – not just food – and it preserves the anonymity of the clients,” said team leader Ella Smith.

The food bank is supported by local shops, businesses and organisations, there are donations of supermarket stamps and vouchers and financial contributions which allow the organisers to buy items in short supply.

A shopping list of most urgently required items is updated weekly and can be found at skiptonfoodbank.org.

Individual contributions may be taken to any of the drop-off points around Skipton and the local area. These are: Skipton: Community Hub (Craven Court), Wonder in Wood (Otley Street), Craven Volunteer Centre (Otley Street), The Red Lion (High Street) and Relish (Rope Walk) Carleton: Post Office and St Mary’s Church Cross Hills: Craven Voluntary Services, Holme Lane Burnsall: St Wilfrid’s Church Settle: WI, Methodist Church and Quakers.

For more information, contact Ella Smith on 07856 080194 or email food@skiptonbaptistchurch.com.