A GROUP of women are handing out food from a church hall in Port Glasgow to stop hard up families from going hungry this Christmas.

Great gran Cathy McIntye helps run the Food Angels mercy mission in the town and expect another busy festive period as Universal Credit continues to bite.

In the last seven years the ladies say there has been a steady rise in the number of people who simply run out of money to buy food.

Sometimes they come to United Reformed Church on foot because they cannot afford a bus ticket to get to bigger foodbanks in Greenock.

They are receiving help this Christmas from the Inverclyde's Slimming World branches, who have organised a collection to help fill their shelves.

Cathy, 79, from Port Glasgow, said: "It does break your heart, but I keep doing it because people need us. There is a wee boy who comes in with his dad and all he ever wants is a Jammy Dodger biscuit.

"I always searched our stocks high and low until I find that wee boy one.

"We never turn anyone away."

Cathy runs the food bank with fellow congregation members Helen Gray and Jennifer McDade.

Such is the hike in demand, they can now find themselves handing out 25 parcels in a single day.

Helen, 49, also from Port Glasgow, said: "We are non-referral and people can come back to us. Some people have children, some live on their own, but the need for help just seems to keep increasing.

"Last Christmas Eve we had a hall full of people with kids running about. It's sad to see.

"We get people who work and people relying benefits. Typically there are women who maybe work 20 hours a week, their grown up kids live with them and they have younger family too. They just run out of money, there is nothing left to buy food."

Food Angels was the first food bank of its kind in Inverclyde, set up by the church's former minister David Walton.

Helen added: "It is important to have something in Port Glasgow because getting to Greenock can be a barrier for folk. If they can't afford food, they can't afford to travel.

"We are just helping ordinary people like ourselves. You never know when it could be you. Most ordinary people are only ever a week or two away from a similar predicament. That's all it takes and you find yourself needing a food bank."

Food Angels was one of a number of Inverclyde organisations to benefit from the recent Slimming World collection.

Consultants organised collections at all their local branches, handing over hundreds of donations to both Food Angel and Inverclyde Food Bank.

Joanne Smith, who runs the Port Slimming World, said: "It means a lot to us to help in the community. I wanted to give back to an organisation in Port Glasgow and Food Angels does a brilliant job. It is sad there is such a need out there."