Foodbanks feed 20,000 in a year across Norfolk
More than 20,000 people in Norfolk have been provided with emergency food by Trussell Trust foodbanks in the last 12 months, among over 100,000 in the eastern counties and one million nationwide. Keith Morris reports.
The latest figures, published by Christian charity the Trussell Trust, indicates that despite signs of economic recovery, the numbers of people turning to foodbanks continues to grow and the Faculty of Public Health has backed the Trust’s call to listen to the experiences of people in crisis in order to reduce poverty and hunger in the UK.
In Norfolk alone, some 13,486 adults and 6,940 children, a total of 20,426, have been helped by foodbanks in the last year. Across the eastern counties of Beds, Bucks, Cambs, Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk and Herts, 100,908 people received three days' emergency food from Trussell Trust foodbanks. This is the equivalent of giving three days’ food to the entire populations of both Bedford and Ely combined.
In the East, the top three primary referral reasons were: benefit delays accounting for 30% of referrals; ‘low Income’ accounting for 23% of referrals; and benefit changes accounting for 13% of referrals.
Nationally in the last year, total numbers of foodbanks launched rose by 5%, whilst numbers of people helped by foodbanks rose by 19%.
Norwich foodbank project manager, Hannah Worsley, said: “Despite an 8% reduction in our own numbers - following a 34% increase in the previous year - we are not surprised that overall, Trussell Trust foodbanks have seen a rise in people using foodbanks.
“There are still long delays when it comes to dealing with benefit problems (both new applications, issues around sanctions and administration errors seeing payments being delayed) and for those in work, we have heard of people who's money goes straight in and out on debts and other bills and the food budget is squeezed out.
“We would be delighted if our charity and services were no longer needed - a thought echoed by many in our position - as that should signify people are no longer finding themselves in a crisis situation. However, while people are going hungry and we are in a position to help, support and feed, we will keep meeting these needs and striving to partner with other agencies so clients find the quickest route to financial independence and confidence.”
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.
“Trussell Trust foodbanks are increasingly hosting additional services like debt counselling and welfare advice, 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,” said Adrian.
Dr John Middleton, Vice President of Faculty of Public Health, said: “The rising number of families and individuals who cannot afford to buy sufficient food is a public health issue that we must not ignore. For many people, it is not a question of eating well and eating healthily, it is a question of not being able to afford to eat at all. UK poverty is already creating massive health issues for people today, and if we do not tackle the root causes of food poverty now we will see it affecting future generations too. The increased burden of managing people's health will only increase if we do not address the drivers of people to foodbanks.”
The Trussell Trust is a Christian charity that runs the biggest network of foodbanks in the UK. Its 400+ foodbanks are run in partnership with churches and communities. Last year the UK public donated 10,280 tonnes of food. Over 90% of Trussell Trust foodbanks provide additional services alongside food to help people out of crisis long term.
For more on The Trussell Trust visit www.trusselltrust.org