FAMILIES, workers and even pensioners are turning to a project originally set up to help feed the homeless and those with drug and alcohol problems.

The Barnsley Churches Drugs Project runs a drop-in centre on John Street whose 40 volunteers provides clothing, bedding and hot food to those in need three times a week.

Kate Raynor, 30, is vice-chairman of the project, which was set up in 2002 to support the homeless and people with drug and alcohol addictions.

She said following benefit and welfare reforms, the drop-in centre now encompasses those in poverty as well.

"In the last 12 months we've seen a lot more young people, young families and those who are working and struggling to make ends meet," she said.

"I speak to people who have been made redundant, or who are working and struggling to pay their bills.

"I've spoken to a couple of pensioners who are unable to afford their energy bills and coming to us for a meal helps them to save the cost of the energy as well as the food.

"I think part of it is on the back of the welfare reforms. From April, when the changes came in, we knew it would take a while for the knock-on effect and now it's building.

"To see pensioners coming is very sad. Society is very fragmented now and people are very isolated, so as well as struggling financially we may be the only people they speak to in the week, so for them it's about the company as well.

"Every week we talk to people who are sleeping on the streets and if they are we give them a coat or a sleeping bag."

She said sometimes people can be quick to judge those using the centre but as a volunteer she spends time listening to people's personal circumstances.

"In 21st century Britain no-one should be relying on charity to get a warm meal and quite a lot of people are saying they wouldn't have eaten if it wasn't for us."