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
A Tyneside charity has been given a special award for helping to provide food to thousands of families struggling with cash.
The Bay Foodbank has been presented with the Whitley Bay Town Cup by North Tyneside Council.
The authority awards the cup to an organisation or individual of the town who has brought about an outstanding event in the last year, or has been of outstanding service to the community.
The foodbank was chosen this year in recognition of its work in providing emergency food parcels to residents having financial problems either through low income, redundancy, medical bills, a bereavement or benefit delays.
Coun Tommy Mulvenna, chairman of council, said:
“This cup is a fantastic way to show our appreciation and recognising the excellent work that these organisations do.
“The Bay Foodbank provides a very important service to the residents of not only Whitley Bay, but the whole of North Tyneside and they thoroughly deserve this honour.”
The charity has set up several drop-off points across the borough, in locations including supermarkets and churches, where members of the public leave donations of non-perishable food items such as long life milk, tea bags, coffee, tinned fish, meat and vegetables, and baby food.
These are then packaged into parcels and delivered to needy families.
People can be referred to the service by churches, doctors, social services or other agencies.
Rev Alan Dickinson, the group’s chairman, said:
“The Bay Foodbank is honoured to receive the Whitley Bay Town Cup.
“We’d like to thank all of our dedicated volunteers who devote their time, but also those who donate to us because without their support we wouldn’t be able to continue the work we do.
“We’re currently supplying around 1,200 meals per week to those most at need in North Tyneside – resulting in a total of almost 12,000 people we have helped support since 2012.
“Last year was our busiest year yet and we can only hope that our fantastic supporters will stick with us for the coming year.
“We have a good working relationship with North Tyneside Council and look forward to continuing this in 2015.”
The Town Cup was introduced by the former Whitley Bay Council in 1954 and it was donated to North Tyneside Council on its formation in 1974.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 23 Jan 2015
Hartlepool Foodbank is set to expand its services to help people deal with debt after winning a funding boost.
The Churches Together project, which has given out a whopping 60 tonnes of food to over 8,000 individuals since launching two years ago, secured the cash prize from Lloyds Bank’s Community Fund.
The foodbank, based in Church Street, came second in a regional online public vote to secure the funding.
The £2,000 will be used to launch a new Community Money Advice (CMA) debt advice service this year.
Al Wales, co-ordinator of Hartlepool Foodbank, said:
“We are so grateful to everyone who voted for us.
“Finishing second was a big achievement and shows the level of support there is for the work of the foodbank in the town.”
Foodbank bosses decided to focus on debt-related issues as it is one of the biggest issues faced by clients who are referred to them for emergency food parcels.
The new service will be headed up by foodbank trustee Lisa Lavender.
“We are delighted with this award because it means we will be able to offer completely free, face to face, quality money advice services which will contribute to the good already being done around the issue of debt in the town by agencies such as West View Resource Centre, Citizens Advice Bureau and Credit Union.”
According to the Trussell Trust charity, which runs the Hartlepool and other foodbanks, more than one in 10 UK families have taken out a pay day loan to make ends meet in the last year.
And almost a quarter have fallen into debt to be able to provide for the family.
Managers say they are currently well stocked with beans and pasta but are very low on tinned fruit, sugar and fruit juice and custard and tin tomatoes or pasta sauce.
You can leave them in permanent collection points at Tesco Extra, in Burn Road, or Morrisons, in Clarence Road.
Supporters can also take them to the foodbank on Tuesday or Friday mornings.
Source – Hartlepool Mail, 19 Jan 2015
Tears rolling down her cheeks, mum Katie Friend reveals the true cost of austerity.
In an emotional outburst she reveals the measures she resorted to just to feed her son.
Katie and husband Mal ate tinned casserole and powdered mash potato, while two-year-old Theo unwrapped presents from the charity shop on Christmas Day.
They were later forced to resort to emergency food parcels to give Theo a birthday party to disguise to him they were living on the bread line.
And today, Katie, a trained nursery nurse, tells how the family would have gone hungry if it wasn’t for the volunteers at the Gateshead Foodbank.
The 24-year-old, who now works part-time in a laundry, is telling her story to erase the stigma associated with foodbanks and to help other families in need.
Katie, whose husband has now found a full-time job, said:
“I have been brought up not to ask for help. I come from a proud family and when you’re struggling you just have to get on with it.
“My husband is very much the same but we had to swallow our pride – not just for us but for Theo. He needed food.
“I came down to the foodbank and I was actually shaking. I was terrified, I felt so embarrassed and ashamed and felt like such a bad mum.
“I thought I would come in and find homeless people queuing up. I came in and it was lovely and bright and I was greeted with a smile.
“It was the total opposite of what I thought it was going to be.”
The Friends were plunged into poverty when their benefits were sanctioned just days before Christmas last year.
Katie desperately tried to hide the fact she was struggling until organisers at St Chad’s Community Project noticed something was wrong.
And as she faced Christmas without any food she plucked up the courage to visit Gateshead Foodbank in the centre of Gateshead.
Volunteers provided her with emergency food parcels to get her through the festive period.
“We were sat having sandwiches. I was sat with my husband and my son cuddled up on the sofa watching the TV. My son opened presents from the charity shop.
“He appreciated them and we had a good day.
“When I think of what somebody else had at Christmas and what we had at Christmas I think it’s hard for somebody to believe that’s what we did.
“Everybody expects everyone can afford to have that day but not everyone can. We would have been able to afford that if we hadn’t have had that sanction.
“I’ll always remember that Christmas, the Christmas we couldn’t afford to have.
“We had tinned casserole and powdered mash potato but we could have had no food. I had a smile on my face on Christmas morning and I wouldn’t have had that if it wasn’t for the foodbank.”
The benefit sanction was lifted after Christmas and Katie and her husband began to get their lives back on track.
But in a second blow – just months later – the family had to resort to handouts when their welfare was recalculated.
And with Theo’s birthday just around the corner and food to find for a pre-planned party Katie received help from the foodbank again.
“It takes over your whole life. People say your in a dark place but you don’t see anything else going on. When I look back I was really down.
“I had the idea that the foodbank was just for homeless people and we weren’t entitled to anything. People donate the food to help people in your situation and you shouldn’t feel bad.
“It has been given for a purpose, you don’t have to feel bad.
“I’m so glad I swallowed my pride. I wasn’t a bad parent, I was a better parent for providing for my child and getting help.”
She added: “I’m just a normal person and just one of many people that got into this situation.”
The foodbank, which has been open nearly two years, is ran by volunteers from churches in Gateshead. It works with care professionals, GPs and the Citizens Advice Bureau to distribute food to those families in need in the town.
They provide three days of emergency food to people who find themselves in need.
For more information, call 0191 487 0898 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Source – Newcastle Evening chronicle, 17 Oct 2014