Foodbanks have record year after introduction of Universal Credit
Foodbank staff and volunteers have handled the busiest year yet in the Trussell Trust’s network across the UK.
A record 1.6million food parcels were given out at the charity’s centres from April 2018 to March 2019, meaning the numbers have soared 73 per cent in five years.
New data released on Thursday shows it was the busiest year for the network since the charity was founded by Carol and Paddy Henderson in 1997.
Nationally, the network has seen an 18.8 per cent increase on the previous year but in West Sussex, the figure is much higher, with a 29 per cent increase recorded.
Worthing Foodbank provided 1,958 three-day emergency food parcels between April 2018 in March 2019. Of this number, 607 went to children.
The figure shows a 23 per cent increase compared to the same period last year and Worthing Foodbank is backing the call to ensure the benefits system is able to protect people from poverty.
Julie Denyer, Worthing Foodbank manager, said: “No one in the Worthing area should need a foodbank’s help and we want to see an end to local people needing emergency food at all.
“It doesn’t have to be this way – our benefits system is supposed to protect us all from being swept into poverty. Universal Credit should be part of the solution but currently the five-week wait is leaving many without enough money to cover the basics. This isn’t right.
“Until we reach a future where foodbanks are no longer needed, we’ll continue to provide vital support when it matters most. We’re dedicated to ensuring that people in our community without enough money for food are able to access emergency support.
“Our vital work in the community has only been possible in the last year because of the incredible generosity shown by local people in donating food, time and funds. Thank you.”
The charity believes the increase is due to people struggling with issues such as the five-week wait for Universal Credit.
Julie joined as a volunteer in 2006 and took over as manager in 2008.
She said previously, Worthing Foodbank had seen a decrease year on year since 2014-2015 but the arrival of Universal Credit in July 2018 was followed by a huge increase in the number of people needing help.
Julie said Worthing Foodbank shared the concerns raised in the Trussell Trust’s network about Universal Credit. She pointed out it was not the only benefit payment people had problems with but the issues faced by people in Worthing moving on to the new system were significant.
Aaron Payne has been homeless for 18 months and has been moving around the south coast, living in a tent.
Currently based in Lancing, he has had regular support from Worthing Foodbank.
Aaron said: “It is getting harder. I would not be eating with them. They also give you advice.”
Julie said people with food vouchers were welcomed into the distribution centre at Worthing Tabernacle and offered a hot drink and biscuits.
Volunteers are able to spend time with them, signposting them to other support services.
Julie said: “Sometimes they have been pushed from pillar to post and just being a listening ear to hear what people have got to say can make all the difference.
“I love it. It is my heart.”
Littlehampton and District Foodbank
Littlehampton and District Foodbank saw a 35 per cent increase between April 1, 2018, and March 31, 2019, providing three days of emergency food for 1,481 people – 1028 adults and 453 children.
Sam Gouldson, deputy co-ordinator at Littlehampton and District Foodbank, said: “We all operate slightly differently but here at Littlehampton, we have seen a considerable increase in the number of people from the local community who need our help.
“Although our catchment area accounts for just 3.2 per cent of West Sussex, Littlehampton and District Foodbank provided 9.1 per cent of all the county’s Trussell Trust emergency food parcels.
“We’re fortunate to have a really compassionate community around us who enable us to help those in need, and we’re extremely grateful for their continued support.”
Shoreham Foodbank, which serves Shoreham and Southwick, saw a 34 per cent increase in the number of vouchers compared to the previous financial year.
Paul Comber, leader of Shoreham Foodbank, said: “For the year April 1, 2018, to March 31, 2019, these voucher fulfilments represented a 48 per cent increase in the numbers of adults (1,190) and children (509) receiving a minimum of three days of emergency food and support for people experiencing food crisis in our local community.
“This has been a significant increase of the number of clients we have been serving compared to the previous years.”
The distribution centre at Shoreham Free Church Hall, Buckingham Road, is open to clients with a food voucher on Tuesday and Friday morning, 10am to midday.
Paul said they fulfilled 673 vouchers in 2018/19, compared to 502 the previous year.
The top five reasons for clients visiting were low income, benefit delays, benefit changes, debt and homelessness.
Paul added: “Shoreham FoodBank relies on the support of the local community, who have been so generous over the past months and years, through volunteering, food donations and fundraising.
“Almost all food is donated by the community, through churches, charities, schools, community centres, businesses, shops and The Co-op supermarket customer donations.”
For Shoreham Foodbank, visit shoreham.foodbank.org.uk, email [email protected] or telephone 07708 384906.