Rising living costs, stagnate wages and welfare reform are frequently cited as the primary causes for rising food poverty and in increase in the demand for food banks.
New research reveals the stark reality behind food poverty in the UK and shows how benefit changes are fuelling soaring levels of hunger and poverty.
Think Money surveyed 70 independent food banks to discover why more families than ever before are turning to them for help.
The survey also reveals the growing strain felt by food banks, as a growing number of families regularly go without food and struggle to cope with welfare cuts.
There has been a 66% increase in the number of independent food banks opening over the last three years. This is in addition to food banks operated by larger providers like Trussell Trust, who handed out more than one million food parcels in 2014-15.
A staggering 59% of food banks users say they frequently go without food three or more times a week.
Every day, hungry and homeless, 120 people pass through the doors of Newcastle’s People’s Kitchen.
Thirty years after being founded in the kitchen of a Heaton home, trustees say the service – which receives no council or Government funding – is more needed than ever.
But having created a community around their business, they say they need more volunteers “to feed the organisation so that it can feed the people.”
“People know of us, but its one of those things where people in some way seem to forget about us,” said trustee Colin Herron, who became involved with the charity after a talk at his daughter’s school.
“Yes at Christmas and harvest time we are very much in people’s consciousness, but the rest of the time we can slip out of it. Yet in February, or June, we are still badly needed.”
The People’s Kitchen was founded in 1985 following an Evening Chronicle story of a man whose body had been found in bushes on wasteland in Newcastle.
Deeply saddened on hearing that someone had passed away alone and unnoticed, grandmother Alison Kay, then 75, decided to do something to support the hungry, homeless and disadvantaged, and took it upon herself to make soup and sandwiches from her home in Heaton.
She also went to the city centre to sit with hungry and lonely men, some of whom also had alcohol-related problems.
In time she helped to break down their barriers of mistrust and more and more people came as word spread, and when two friends joined forces with Alison, the People’s Kitchen was born.
A market place will be turned into a foodbank collection point next month (Friday, July 10).
The Unite Community will be holding a donation event for County Durham Foodbank and the County Durham Socialist Clothing Bank in Durham Market Place on Friday, July 10 – the day before Durham Miners’ Gala.
The move was inspired by an event in Glasgow following last year’s Scottish independence referendum, staged to highlight the impact of austerity cuts.
A Unite Community spokesman said: “On the Saturday, over 100,000 people will take part in Durham Miners’ Gala in a huge demonstration of solidarity.
“We are asking them to extend their solidarity by a day to help out those desperately struggling or unable to make ends meet.”
The collection will run from 10am to 3pm.
A Hebburn woman is hoping to help put food on the table of South Tyneside families struggling to make ends meet.
After her plans got out, she was inundated with generous donations from members of the public and, what was just an idea, quickly became a reality.
The 46-year-old said:
“I’ve got my own clothing alterations and repair shop and, a couple of months ago, I began thinking about turning the upstairs of the shop into a food bank.
“There is nothing like this in Hebburn that I’m aware of and I know what it is like to struggle.”
“A few people found out and started dropping off donations. At that point I hadn’t made my mind up but with the donations coming in, I thought I might as well go ahead with the idea.”
Despite only officially running the food bank for just over a week, Jo has been able to help three families who were left struggling to put food on the table.
A Conservative MP has said stopping payments to benefit claimants is forcing people to food banks – contradicting a Government minister overseeing the crackdown.
Andrew Percy, who represents Brigg and Goole on Humberside, went on to criticise the “consistency” of the benefits sanctions regime and called for a review.
His comments in the House of Commons came minutes after Employment Minster Priti Patel argued there is “no robust evidence that directly links sanctions and food bank use”.
Benefit claimants can have their payments suspended or docked if they break the rules, but critics claim many of the breaches are trivial. The Work and Pensions Committee of MPs has twice called for an independent inquiry.
The Trussell Trust charity says a record one million packages were given out by food banks last year.
Mr Percy’s intervention followed the Labour frontbench and two SNP MPs berating the Government for fuelling the need for hand-outs of food parcels.
Yesterday was one of the busiest days we have had since The Clothing Bank opened. There was a steady stream of people through the doors. We were also joined by our friends from Sunderland Unite Community Branch who are hoping to start a Clothing Bank in Sunderland in the not too distant future. Thanks guys- we appreciated your help yesterday.
We also launched our summer raffle and other fund-raising activities. So far we have received around thirty raffle prizes. Thank you for your kindness. Tickets will be on sale until 28th July. If you would like to purchase tickets let us know via our facebook page.
And now to our new best friend who joined the Clothing Bank team yesterday. Initially bought for a two year old and subsequently frightened the life out of said child. So much so that our new friend had to go and live at Grandma’s -who…
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A new foodbank distribution point has opened in a small village.
The County Durham Foodbank food collection point will operate from the YMCA at Fencehouses near Chester-le-Street every Tuesday from 1pm to 3pm.
Stuart Hudson, Foodbank distribution centres manager, said:
“We are always looking for areas that will benefit from a Foodbank presence to meet the needs of those within communities who are in crisis.
“YMCA Fencehouses have identified that their local community would benefit from Foodbank support and we are looking forward to building relationships with referral agencies, local communities and the YMCA.”
Project lead David McCreedy said:
“For any Foodbank, feeding people in financial crisis is what they do.
“At Fencehouses YMCA Foodbank however, we consider that it is equally important to identify why people are becoming hungry and to take action to reduce food poverty. We will work with those using the Foodbank to support them in other areas of their difficult predicament.”
The County Durham Foodbank takes referrals from various agencies and currently runs 27 distribution points. Last year it provided 15,500 three-day food parcels to 9,963 individuals, many affected by welfare reforms or benefit delays.
Source – Durham Times, 27 May 2015
The Clothing Bank opened its doors today. As last time we had prom dresses and prom suits available to loan as well as our more usual items. It was a bit of a quiet day, maybe the freak stormy weather around the Durham area persuaded people to stay home. We were far from lonely though- we still had plenty of visitors.
Here is Katie who looks absolutely beautiful in the prom dress she has chosen. As predicted there was much ooohing and aaahing from the volunteers when she tried it on
Not quite so glamorous but still as lovely- here is one of our volunteers modelling one of a range of very smart coats that we have been given.
A huge thank you to Just Perfect at Shotton who have donated so much prom clothing to us. We would also like to thank all our volunteers and donators- we really…
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The County Durham Socialist Clothing Bank had its latest opening today and oh my goodness we were busy! Our volunteers estimate that we gave out around one hundred bags of clothing- based on the number of rolls of bags we used. As always the kindness of those who donate items and/or time is appreciated and our heartfelt thanks go out to you all.
It was however a day of mixed emotions for the volunteers. First the happy things. Our prom dresses, suits and assorted prom accessories made their first appearance at the Clothing Bank today. We have received seventy dresses and have truly been overwhelmed by the generosity of those who gave them. We are loaning them out at no charge. If you would like to borrow one, all you need to bring is proof of ID. The red one below was our first to be loaned out. Also below you can…
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The number of people reliant on food banks to help feed themselves and their families could rocket to more than two million, according to new research.
Research by Dr Rachel Loopstra, from Oxford University, forecasts that Tory plans for a further £12bn in welfare cuts could lead to a doubling in food banks users by 2017.
Trussell Trust, who operates over 440 food banks, gave out 1,084,604 emergency food parcels in 2014/15 – up from 61,468 in 2010/11.
The charity is just one of many food bank providers, charities and churches supporting hungry families across the UK.
The research also shows that rising food bank use is due to higher demand, rather than greater supply – as claimed by some government ministers.
According to a formula devised by Dr Loopstra, the number of food parcels given out per head of the population rises by 0.16% for every 1% cut in welfare spending.
Dr Loopstra said: “It coincides with spending cuts, welfare reform and record numbers of benefit claimants losing payments due to sanctions.”
Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves seized on the figures, saying they were further evidence of the hardship and misery caused by Tory welfare policy.
“It would be an absolute disgrace for food bank use to double”, she said.
“The welfare state is there to provide a safety net. It’s not doing what it’s meant to do when people have to rely on charity.”
Reeves said David Cameron’s pledge of more savage cuts to welfare benefits means he has no choice but to cut working-age benefits, because the Tories have ruled out any changes to pensions and pensioner benefits.
“The Tories cannot achieve their £12bn of cuts to social security without doing so and hitting family budgets hard”, she said.
“Child benefit and tax credits are now on the ballot paper next week. Labour will protect them, and families across the country now know the Tories will cut them again.”
Reeves blamed benefit delays, sanctions and the hated bedroom tax for the increased demand on food banks.
She said Labour was the only party committed to reducing the reliance on food banks.
> But hang on… didn’t she say Labour didn’t want to be the party of the unemployed ? And aren’t Labour promising more Workfare ?
“A Labour government would do this by axing the bedroom tax, getting rid of benefit sanctions targets and introducing protections for people with mental health problems, carers, pregnant women and people at risk of domestic violence.”
She added: “It’s inevitable, if the Tories get back in, that we will see further food bank use.”
Trussell Trust’s Adrian Curtis said: “Despite welcome signs of economic recovery, hunger continues to affect significant numbers in the UK today.”
Source – Welfare Weekly, 04 May 2015