Between 1st April and 30th September 2017, 1281 three day emergency food supplies were provided to local people in crisis by Birmingham Central Foodbank, compared to the same period in the previous year. Of this number, 698 went to children. The foodbank, a member of The Trussell Trust’s network which has recently reported an increase in UK foodbank use, believes the local increase is mainly due to people struggling with continued issues with benefit payments.
In the months leading to Christmas a number of factors, such as cold weather and high energy bills, or foodbanks and referral agencies ensuring that people who are likely to hit crisis have food ahead of Christmas Day, mean The Trussell Trust’s foodbank network traditionally sees a spike in foodbank use. Birmingham Central Foodbank is asking the community to help them prepare for their busiest time of year by donating urgently needed food items (see list on website).
Universal Credit is being rolled out across Birmingham, and we share the concerns of other Trussell Trust foodbanks in full Universal Credit rollout areas about the issues people referred to the charity have experienced with the new system. The 6+ week waiting period for a first payment can contribute to debt, mental health issues and rent arrears. The effects of these can last even after people receive their Universal Credit payments, as bills and debts pile up. We are working hard to help prevent local people affected going hungry but is troubled by the extra pressure this puts on food donation stocks and volunteers’ capacity.
Mark Ward, Interim Chief Executive at The Trussell Trust, said:
“We’re seeing soaring demand at foodbanks across the UK. Our network is working hard to stop people going hungry but the simple truth is that even with the enormous generosity of our donors and volunteers, we’re concerned foodbanks could struggle to meet demand this winter if critical changes to benefit delivery aren’t made now. People cannot be left for weeks without any income, and when that income does come, it must keep pace with living costs – foodbanks cannot be relied upon to pick up the pieces. Without urgent action from policy-makers and even more generous practical support from the public, we don’t know how foodbanks are going to stop families and children going hungry this Christmas.”
Since the national Trussell Trust mid-year figures were released last week, we are already seeing an increase in clients visiting our Foodbank as Christmas approaches. We expect this rise in use will continue. Thank you to those who are already supporting us, and if you would like to start please get in touch!
National Mid-Year Trends: