New figures released by Whitehawk Foodbank have revealed 8,340 emergency food parcels were provided to local people who couldn’t afford the essentials between April 2021 and March 2022, a 5% increase on 2020-21.
The food bank believes the increase in people needing support is due to 36% of referrals as a result of debt. Research from the Trussell Trust, which supports a network of food banks across the UK to provide emergency support to people in crisis, shows almost half of people referred to foodbanks were in debt to the government. A further 30% of referrals came as a result of benefits delays and issues such as the five-week wait for Universal Credit payments, and sanctions from the DWP.
Whitehawk Foodbank is part of the Trussell Trust network, which has experienced its busiest winter outside of the height of the pandemic in 2020. Food banks in the Trussell Trust network provided more than 2.1 million parcels to people on the lowest incomes across the UK from 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022. This is a 14% increase on pre-pandemic figures in 2019-20 as more and more people across the country are unable to afford the essentials we all need to eat, stay warm, dry and clean.
The need for food banks in the Trussell Trust network has accelerated throughout the past six months, and food bank managers are warning of a growing crisis following the cut to Universal Credit in October 2021, as the cost of living continues to soar:
- July – September 2021 saw a 10% increase in comparison to the same period in 2019
- October – December 2021 saw a 17% increase in comparison to the same period in 2019
- January – February 2022 saw a 22% increase in comparison to the same period in 2020
Joe Walker, Whitehawk Foodbank’s manager, said: “There’ll always be a role for strong community groups looking out for their neighbours, and we’re so grateful for the generous support of our volunteers and to local people who have donated to the food bank. Together, you’ve made sure no one in our community goes hungry.
“There is great support across the community for people on the lowest incomes, but it shouldn’t be needed. We should all be free from hunger and no one should be pushed deeper into poverty without enough money for the things we all need. It’s not right that anyone in Whitehawk needs our food bank in the first place – everyone should be able to afford the essentials.
“Worryingly, the situation is only set to get worse with the emerging cost of living crisis affecting those in our community. We know what’s pushing people to need food banks like ours, so we know what needs to be done. At all levels, national and local governments must use their powers and take urgent action now to strengthen our social security system so it keeps up with the true cost of living. People cannot afford to wait any longer for support.”
Whitehawk Foodbank has been providing emergency food and support to local people since 2015.
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