Numbers of food bank users across North East on the up, with Newcastle West End the most used in the UK

Growing numbers of people on low incomes in the North are turning to food banks to survive, new research reveals.

Figures released today by the Trussell Trust, which runs a network of 400 food banks across the UK, show that between April and September 2014, over 25,000 people were helped by the charity’s Gateshead, Newcastle East and Newcastle West End food banks alone.

That breaks down to 4,289 a month – more than treble the 1,316 people per month in Newcastle and Gateshead who accessed a food bank in the nine month period between April 2013 and December 2013.

Meanwhile a further 912 were catered for at Middlesbrough’s food bank during the six-month period.

But it is Newcastle West End food bank which is bearing the biggest strain with 3,640 people accessing it per month between April and September 2014, making it the most used food bank in the whole of the UK.

The Trust’s report found delays and changes to benefits continue to be the biggest overall trigger for food bank visits at 45%, while a growing reason is low income at 22%.

David McAuley, Trussell Trust chief executive, said:

“Whilst the rate of new food banks opening has slowed dramatically, we’re continuing to see a significant increase in numbers helped by food banks.

“Incomes for the poorest have not been increasing in line with inflation and many, whether in low paid work or on welfare, are not yet seeing the benefits of economic recovery. Instead, they are living on a financial knife edge where one small change in circumstances or a ‘life shock’ can force them into a crisis where they cannot afford to eat.”

Earlier this month, it was reported that Gateshead food bank found the organisation had seen a 27% year-on-year increase in people using the service since it opened in 2012, handing out 52 tonnes of food in that time.

Ian Britton, secretary of Beacon Lough Baptist Church which is part of Gateshead food bank, said:

“The figures are in line with our experiences on the ground. People are coming into food banks every week across the North East and numbers are steadily increasing.

“Demand is still unfortunately on the increase and our volunteers are seeing more people referred to us by professionals.

“We are grateful to everybody across Tyneside who donate to food banks because they allow us to provide for those most in need.”

Every time somebody visits a food bank they are given three days’ worth of food.

Source –  Newcastle Evening Chronicle,  23 Nov 2014

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