A public appeal for urgent cash made by Food Bank Aid to help 31 emergency food centres across north London has busted its £1.2million target by an extra £100,000 in just 36 hours.

The Banks in Crisis Again appeal was launched in desperation to ensure the survival of the food banks that are helping 20,000 people who depend on them.

Donations virtually “fell off a cliff” before a weekend cash drive because of the escalating cost-of-living crisis, say fundraising organisers.

“We are under more pressure than ever before to help the 31 emergency food centres,” Food Bank Aid founder Naomi Russell said. “We are faced with a new wave of people having to use them.

“It’s a tough time for Food Bank Aid and we really need as much support from the public as we can get.”

Russell set up her charity in Highgate during the Covid pandemic. The project was meant to be a temporary stopgap — but soon became a crucial supplier to food banks with donations from the people of Hampstead and Highgate which then attracted support from communities across north London.

The latest 36-hour fundraising drive hit £1.3m at 10pm on February 26 but is continuing because of the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

It attracted backing from Outnumbered TV sitcom star Claire Skinner and England rugby captain and ‘world player of the year’ Marlie Packer.

The scale of the crisis was illustrated by a call from NHS hospital paediatric nurses when they realised some children with disabilities and their parents attending clinics were struggling with insufficient food which was affecting their health.

The nurses at first pooled £100 to buy food — but the need grew.

Naomi’s Food Bank Aid charity responded by starting weekly deliveries to the hospital and has since become crucial in providing regular food to those in dire need.

The 31 foodbanks the charity supports are right across north London, even reaching the outer suburbs as well as deprived inner urban districts.

They operate in Barnesbury, Bounds Green, Bushey Heath, Camden Town, Chalk Farm, Childs Hill, Colindale, Edmonton, Euston, Finchley, Hampstead, Harrow, Hendon, Highbury, Holloway, Hornsey, Islington, Kentish Town, Neasden, North Finchley, North Watford, Southgate and Tottenham.