Tagged: foodbank

Hebburn businesswoman turns spare room into food bank

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.

Full story :  http://northstar.boards.net/thread/125/hebburn-businesswoman-turns-spare-room

bannerfans_15660331

TORY MP says Benefits Crackdown Forces People To Food Banks

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.

Full story :  http://northstar.boards.net/thread/111/benefits-crackdown-forces-people-banks

bannerfans_15660331

Fencehouses – New Foodbank opens

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

More than 4,500 Hartlepool families get emergency supplies from foodbanks as cases increase

Thousands of Hartlepool families have been given vital help following heartfelt pleas to a foodbank.

Hartlepool Foodbank gave 4,222 people three days of emergency food in 2014-15, compared to 4783 in 2013-14.

The figures included 1,147 children getting help from the foodbank.

Bosses at the foodbank, which is one of 400 nationally run by the Trussell Trust, have praised communities for helping the cause, which saw people in Hartlepool donate 38 tonnes of food.

 The foodbank was also boosted by 50 people to volunteered to help others.

The top three reasons for foodbank referrals were benefit delay 33 per cent, low income 25 per cent and benefit changes 11 per cent.

A spokesman for the Trussell Trust said:

“Thanks to the generous donations from members of the public Hartlepool Foodbank is often able to provide some basic toiletries in addition to the emergency food, to families who are at struggling point, as well as signposting them to other services in the local area.

“Many Trussell Trust foodbanks, including Hartlepool Foodbank, are partnering with other agencies to provide additional services such as welfare advice, budgeting help and debt support from their premises, helping people to break out of crisis.”

Nationally last year 1,084,604 people – including 396,997 children – received three days’ food from the Trussell Trust’s network of foodbanks in 2014/15, compared with 913,138 in the 2013/14 financial year, an increase of 19 per cent.

Trussell Trust UK foodbank director Adrian Curtis said:

“Despite welcome signs of economic recovery, hunger continues to affect significant numbers of men, women and children in the UK today. It’s difficult to be sure of the full extent of the problem as Trussell Trust figures don’t include people who are helped by other food charities or those who feel too ashamed to seek help.

Adrian Curtis added: “Trussell Trust foodbanks are increasingly hosting additional services like debt counselling and welfare advice at our foodbanks, which is helping more people out of crisis. The Trussell Trust’s latest figures highlight how vital it is that we all work to prevent and relieve hunger in the UK. It’s crucial that we listen to the experiences of people using foodbanks to truly understand the nature of the problems they face; what people who have gone hungry have to say holds the key to finding the solution.”

Source – Hartlepool Mail,  23 Apr 2015

North East teachers bringing food into work for hungry children

Teachers are being forced to bring food into school to feed hungry children, a North East union leader has warned.

Simon Kennedy, regional organiser of the teaching union NASUWT, said school-funded breakfast clubs and teachers bringing food into work was a “sad situation” for the fourth richest country in the world.

However, the Conservative Party said the number of children living in poverty in England and Wales has fallen by 300,000 during the party’s term in office.

Speaking after the NASUWT held its annual conference in Cardiff at the weekend, Mr Kennedy said child poverty has become a growing problem.

“Kids are coming into school hungry and that is affecting their educational attainment,” he said.

“Teachers are bringing food into work because these children would sometimes not otherwise eat.

“Schools are also dipping into their budgets to pay for breakfast clubs which were originally set up to encourage healthy eating among children.

“So many parents in the North East are relying on , especially in Newcastle which has the busiest foodbank in the country.

“Whichever government comes in needs to increase the amount of investment in education. But a basic part of our society should be to ensure that our children are fed. Children of today should not be left to go hungry.”

Teachers at the conference also raised the problem of excessive workload, which they say is not only damaging their mental health, but also driving talented teachers out of the profession.

Nearly 90% of teachers at the conference cited excessive workload as the greatest concern they have about their job.

Mr Kennedy said: “Many teachers work every evening and every weekend and they’re not being paid for it.

“There is this endless drive to improve and what’s best for the child and the teacher has gone out of the window.

“School management is being forced to focus more on the league tables and the next Ofsted inspection rather than the children’s needs.

“Increased workloads, coupled with a cut in pay for teachers, has led to many in the profession leaving work or suffering from mental health problems.

“Media coverage would have you think teachers are failing our young people in some way, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.”

Meanwhile, teachers have backed calls for a ballot on strike action over shortfalls to school funding.

The ballot motion was backed at the National Union of Teachers (NUT) conference in Harrogate, where members heard claims that funding shortages would threaten redundancies.

A Conservative spokesman said:

“Under the Conservatives, the number of children living in poverty has fallen by 300,000.

“Extending free meals has led to over a million more children eating a school meal at lunchtime and by introducing the Pupil Premium, we are targeting an extra £2.5 billion toward the education of the most disadvantaged every year, which helping close the attainment gap with their peers.

“Thanks to our policies, there are more jobs than ever before, wages are rising faster than prices and with the lowest inflation on record, family budgets are starting to go further. The NASUWT should recognise how the Conservatives have rescued the economy, and through that, are delivering the jobs that secure a better future for families.

“Our Child Poverty Strategy is tackling poverty at its source: dealing with the problems of worklessness and family breakdown which blight the lives of vulnerable families. But we know that there is much more to do. We need to stick to our long-term economic plan, so that all children have the best possible start in life.”

> All I can say is it’s a good thing Pinoccio isn’t a government spokesman…

Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 08 Apr 2015

Richmondshire tops national table for benefits sanctions

The Government has been accused of cruelty and running a ‘postcode lottery for benefits‘ after it emerged a rural district had by far the highest proportion nationally of Jobseekers Allowance claimants being sanctioned.

A report by homelessness charity Crisis said 15.4 per cent of jobseekers in Richmondshire, North Yorkshire, had been sanctioned, making claimants there three times more likely to have their benefits stopped than in its southern Yorkshire Dales neighbour Craven.

It found just 6.2 per cent of claimants in Richmondshire’s northern neighbour Durham had been sanctioned, while 10.9 per cent of claimants in Hambleton had had their benefits stopped, giving that area the tenth highest rate of sanctions in the country.

Crisis said evidence was mounting of “a punitive and deeply flawed regime”.

In 2012, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) introduced sanctions of between one week and three years if a claimant fails to comply with jobseeking requirements, such as attending interviews or undertaking work-related activity.

 The severity of the regime has attracted criticism, with some foodbank workers claiming it has created an upsurge in people needing emergency hand-outs, while the Government has moved to deny that Jobcentre staff are given sanction quotas.

Senior pastor Ben Dowding, of the Store House foodbank, in Richmond, said he was surprised the area had topped the national sanctions table and that staff at the town’s Jobcentre – the only Jobcentre in the district – had often demonstrated compassion rather than being strict on claimants.

> Although presumably not so compassionate that they don’t keep sending his foodbank customers.

He said:

“Statistics only tell one side of the story, but having worked with the Jobcentre staff, they have always proved to be very caring individuals.”

Councillor John Blackie, leader of Richmondshire District Council, said he believed the area’s high sanction rate reflected jobseekers’ problems reaching the Jobcentre or work, adding that it took claimants in Hawes five hours of travelling and waiting to sign on in Richmond and return home.

 He added: “Most civil service departments do not recognise rurality as an issue.”

A DWP spokesman said Jobcentre staff took claimants’ personal circumstances into account and said there could be a number of factors that had led to Richmondshire having the highest proportion of sanctions.

He said: “Sanctions are only used as a last resort for the tiny minority who refuse to take up the support which is on offer.”

> As ever, the only people not asked for their opinion appear to be the unemployed, especially those who have been sanctioned. However, the original story received this comment:

When claimants apply for jobs it goes on a jobsite how many . My daughter applied for 17 one day but only 2 registered she took a picture of the jobs she had applied.

The next signing on Richmond said you only applied for 2 jobs – she said no look at this picture proving I applied for 17. So the system was not working correct but guess what sanctioned.

The staff at Richmond must be on good bonuses.

Source –  Northern Echo,  11 Mar 2015

More than 100 children living on food hand-outs in Hartlepool

Hartlepool Foodbank has helped an average of more than 100 children a month after hard-up families made desperate pleas for help.

The life-saving Church Street charity helped 4,507 people throughout 2014, of which 1,253 were children aged under 17.

That is equal to 12 people needing to use the Foodbank every day throughout the year, or 375 a month, including 104 children a month.

Starving town families used a total of 2,452 Foodbank vouchers distributed by the charity last year, which was an increase of 349 on 2013.

Today, MP for Hartlepool Iain Wright described the figures as “heartbreaking”.

He said:

“The notion that kids in a rich economy, where you have billionaires avoiding paying tax, yet there are people in our town who can’t afford to feed their children.

“No-one can view that as acceptable – it should make people both upset and very angry.

“I see it when people come to seek help from me, they are absolutely desperate and they haven’t got enough money to heat their homes or put food on the able.

“A lot of the time these people are in work as well, but their incomes are so low given the rising cost of living. It’s just not enough to allow people to live.

“There are also benefit sanctions for the most spurious of reasons which seems to confirm that Central Government is dictating to job centres that they must impose them.”

“I’m genuinely shocked that this is happening in this day and age. People having to go into charities for hand-outs for something as basic as food is an absolute disgrace.

“We are just very fortunate that the people of Hartlepool are so generous and continue to to donate food to the Foodbank.”

In the annual report, chair of trustees Clive Hall said:

“Hartlepool Foodbank is a robust and effective project which has grown and developed extremely well since opening two years ago.

“Hartlepool Foodbank should feel extremely proud of all that has been achieved since opening and for the very professional service that has been developed.”

The figures were revealed in Hartlepool Foodbank’s Annual report for 2014.

It also showed that the main reasons people became so hungry that they were forced to use the service to feed themselves and their familes, was down to benefit delays and changes, and low income.

Source – Hartlepool Mail, 10 Mar 2015

Durham University study warns cutting off benefits ‘makes people ill’

Tough measures designed to force benefit claimants to find work are instead making them ill, a study by North East academics has warned.

Claimants who have their benefits cut are sometimes left to go without food or the ability to heat their homes, a study found.

And this has an impact on their health – particularly because some of these affected are already ill or disabled.

The study was carried out by researcher Kayleigh Garthwaite and Professor Clare Bambra of Durham University.

Their findings were presented to MPs on the Commons Work and Pensions Committee, which is holding an investigation into “sanctions” which can imposed on people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance and some people claiming Employment and Support Allowance, a benefit paid to people who are ill or disabled.

Claimants can have their benefits cuts off, known as a sanction, if officials believe they have failed to prove that they are looking for work.

But critics including a number of North East MPs argue that some claimants have lost benefits for no good reason. In a Commons debate in January, Bishop Auckland MP Helen Goodman and other Labour MPs said they believed job centre staff were given unofficial targets for the number of sanctions issued.

The study by Dr Garthwaite and Professor Bambra was part of a five year project looking at why some groups of people are healthier than others, which has focused on foodbank users in Stockton on Tees.

In a paper presented to MPs, they said:

“Sanctions led to loss of their only source of income, resulting in sanctioned ESA recipients often going without sufficient food and/or energy required to maintain good health or recover from illness.”

In some cases, benefits were taken from people who did not understand the complex rules, including people mental health conditions, the academics said.

They warned:

“Sanctions have led to cases of a total loss of income resulting in an inability to eat or heat at the levels required for maintaining good health or recovering from ill health.

“Indeed sanctions have exacerbated ill health. The sanctioning of people with mental health problems is a particular problem – with the stress and anxiety of income loss adding to their underlying condition.”

The academics said sanctions for ESA claimants “should be relaxed or removed – particularly for those with mental health problems”.

Dr Garthwaite also spoke to MPs at Westminster, where she warned that claimants often had no idea that there was an official hardship fund available to help people who had entirely run out of money.

She told them that some food bank users had resorted to eating food they knew would be bad for them because of medical conditions – such as an intolerance for wheat – because they had nothing else.

Defending the policy, Employment Minister Esther McVey told the committee that studies had shown sanctions encouraged people to find work.

She said:

“All the international evidence suggests that sanctions do have a positive impact on people getting into work, and there are two parts of that: as a deterrent, it has a positive impact on moving people into work, and there is further research that, should somebody have been sanctioned, it helps them into work afterwards.”

The Government publishes figures showing how many sanctions have been imposed.

In Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, Durham and Tees Valley, sanctions were imposed 92,326 times since 2012.

The job centre which has cut benefits most often is James Cook House in Middlesbrough, which imposed 7,068 sanctions.

John Street job centre in Sunderland imposed 4,922 sanctions.

Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 14 Feb 2015

Food poverty under spotlight in South Tyneside

Measures needed to tackle food poverty across Britain are being scrutinised in South Tyneside today.

Members of an all-party Parliamentary inquiry team, including South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck, visited the town’s Churches Together Key Project, at St Mary’s Centre, last summer as part of a fact-finding exercise.

The team also held a discussion session at St Jude’s Church Hall at Rekendyke, South Shields, and visited the New Hope Food Bank, in the town’s Robinson Street.

They heard poignant personal accounts from young borough people forced to rely on food banks to survive, and they were told that more than 1,680 people in South Tyneside had visited food banks in 2013.

Everything the team learned in the borough has helped inform the recommendations they made to the Government on the extent of hunger across the country and the actions needed to address it.

Today Mrs Lewell-Buck and the Rt Rev Mark Bryant, the Bishop of Jarrow, are among those meeting at South Shields Town Hall to discuss the findings of the hard-hitting report.

The report identifies a clear link between the use of food banks and tougher restrictions on access to benefits.

> Like it wasn’t always obvious ?

It insists that, contrary to Government claims, food banks have spread because of greater need.

Among a raft of recommendations, the report calls for bigger food banks to distribute more free food and advise people on how to claim benefits and make ends meet.

And it recommends a rise in the minimum wage and the provision of free school meals during school holidays for poorer children.

The report says:

“We do not believe food banks should take the place of statutory welfare provision in this country, but our evidence suggests there is a strong desire for longer-term interaction between food banks and vulnerable households, and an eagerness for these relationships to become embedded within local communities so they can help people overcome the deep-seated causes of hunger.”

Mrs Lewell-Buck said:

“We’ve had a great response to our report, and we’ve managed to get the Government to accept that some aspects of the benefits system aren’t working and are causing a lot of hardship.

“I think the Government’s priority needs to be dealing with low-paid and insecure work, as well as the harsh way benefit sanctions are being imposed.

> Yes, we all think so too. So are you actually going to do something about it ? Will your party, if they win the general election ?

“The group’s work doesn’t stop with the report, however. This is an ongoing mission to put an end to food poverty, and that is why I am holding today’s meeting to discuss the next steps for the group and for Shields.”

The Government is now considering the findings of the inquiry team.

A Government spokesman said:

“This report is a serious contribution to an important debate, with many good ideas, and recognising that the reasons behind demands for emergency food assistance are complex and frequently overlapping.

“As a country, we have enough food to go around, and we agree that it is wrong that anyone should go hungry at the same time as surplus food is going to waste.

“There is a moral argument, as well as a sustainability one, to ensure we make the best use of resources.”

SOME OF THE REPORT’S 77 RECOMMENDATIONS:

–  The Government should provide support for 12 pilot projects across the UK to draw together voluntary and public expertise to eliminate hunger.

– All supermarkets should follow the example of Tesco and add 30 per cent to any food given by its shoppers to food banks.

> Bought by shoppers in Tesco.  It might look a bit more magnaminous if they just gave something without those kind of strings ?

– Local authorities should work with food organisations to free up land for food production, retail and storage.

> But don’t we have all those things already ? Surely the problem facing people using foodbanks is that we have plenty of food, but not the money to buy it ?

– Credit unions accounts’ should be made eligible for receipt of Universal Credit to encourage use among low-income households.

– Local authorities should begin collecting information on whether landlords in receipt of housing benefit are providing basic cooking facilities for their tenants.

– The Government should reform the benefits system so it can deliver payments within five working days.

> I’m sure it could right now… if it wanted to.

– The Department of Work and Pensions ought to simplify access to hardship payments.

 > And it could do that right now too… if, of course, it wanted to…
Source –  Shields Gazette,  06 Feb 2015