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24 April 2013

Biggest rise in UK foodbank use a ‘wake-up call’

Biggest rise in UK foodbank use a ‘wake-up call’

The Trussell Trust says the number of people using church-led foodbanks is a "wake-up call to the nation". The Christian charity claims the dramatic rise in foodbank use predates April’s welfare reforms, but that the changes could mean numbers increase further in 2013-14.

Statistics released today show a 170 per cent rise in numbers turning to church-led foodbanks in the last 12 months. The Trussell Trust report claims this is the biggest rise in numbers given emergency food since 2000. Almost 350,000 people have received at least three days emergency food from foodbanks during the last year, nearly 100,000 more than anticipated and close to triple the number helped in 2011-12.

Of those helped over the last year 126,889 were children and most recipients were working-age families. 30 per cent of people helped were referred as a result of benefit delays and 15 per cent because of benefit changes. The majority of people turning to foodbanks are working age families.

Trussell Trust executive chairman Chris Mould says: “The sheer volume of people who are turning to foodbanks because they can’t afford food is a wake-up call to the nation that we can not ignore the hunger on our doorstep. Politicians across the political spectrum urgently need to recognise the real extent of UK food poverty and create fresh policies that better address its underlying causes. This is more important than ever as the impact of the biggest reforms to the welfare state since it began start to take effect. Since 1 April we have already seen increasing numbers of people in crisis being sent to foodbanks with nowhere else to go.”

Three new foodbanks are launched every week to help meet demand, mostly run by churches and local community groups. The majority of people turning to foodbanks are working age families. Foodbanks are community driven with an estimated 30,000 volunteers giving their time across the UK. Over 3,400 tonnes of food were donated by the public in 2012-13.

Chris Mould adds: “Whilst it’s deeply concerning that so many people are facing hunger in the UK, the evident willingness of the public to help their neighbours through foodbanks has prevented thousands of crises escalating into disaster. We regularly hear people say that ‘the foodbank saved my life’ and it’s local churches and communities that make that possible.”

Read about the Trussell Trust Trolley Push