Britain risks being dragged back to "the times of Charles Dickens" as tens of thousands look set to flood to foodbanks this Christmas, charity Action for Britain warned yesterday.
The charity said many faced the worst living standards since the second world war and they risked being trampled back further.
In a typical example of today's reality, one small northern English town's foodbank organisers said yesterday that they expect 200 people to turn up for a free dinner on Christmas Eve - up from its regular clientele of 120.
Action for Children spokesman Jacob Tas said that for the first time since the 1940s a "staggering" number of its centres are having to direct desperate families towards groups providing emergency supplies.
Some families are having to choose between paying for food, heating or rent, he said.
"It's painful and unfortunate that we have now entered in a time when we go back in comparison to the 1940s.
"It's really horrible for those families who are basically already at the bottom of the food chain that they have to go to go to foodbanks to get their food," he said.
Todmorden is a small West Yorkshire Pennine town near the border with Lancashire. Its volunteer food bank feeds 120 people a week.
"On Christmas Eve we are expecting over 200 people and their children to come for dinner," said one volunteer.
The Todmorden foodbank is one of hundreds that have sprung up as a result of the vicious policies introduced by the Tories and their Liberal Democrat collaborators.
Mr Tas said unemployment, changes to the benefits system and cuts to services were all contributing to the foodbank crisis.
"We can't go back to the times of Charles Dickens where at Christmas time we are handing out food and clothes. We should be more advanced in our opinion of society where we take care of those who need help the most," he said.
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