Cost of living hits families says Norwich foodbank
The increasing cost of living and cuts in Universal Credit payments meant that 8,437 food parcels were provided to local people in food need by Norwich foodbank in the last 12 months, alongside provision by other food charities set up during the pandemic.
New figures released by Norwich foodbank today, reveal 8,537 emergency food parcels were provided to people between April 2021 and March 2022. 3,038 of these went to children.
“Local people unable to afford the essentials are being referred for emergency food because people’s finances are being hit by the increasing cost of living and many are still feeling the impact of the £20 a week being cut from Universal Credit payments during the last year,” said Norwich foodbank Project Manager Hannah Worsley.
The foodbank is part of the Trussell Trust network, which has experienced its busiest winter outside of the height of the pandemic in 2020. Although locally the charity has seen a decrease in referrals compared to figures in 2020-21, the team say that any parcel going to people without enough money for essentials is still one too many
Hannah said: “We believe that the decrease in referrals is not reflecting a reduction in local people struggling to afford the essentials, but more likely due in part to other food aid available across the city and surrounding area provided by other charities and groups – many of whom started during the pandemic and several who have continued.”
On average, foodbanks in the Trussell Trust network provided more than 2.1 million parcels to people on the lowest incomes across the UK from April 1, 2021 to March 31, 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
Norwich Foodbank is clear that its team will always do all they can to help people in the community – but they cannot, and should not, be needing to distribute emergency food parcels on this scale.
Hannah said: “There will 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 foodbank. Together, you’ve made sure that local people who can’t afford the essentials don’t face hunger.
“The support we see across the community for people on the lowest incomes is incredible. But it shouldn’t be needed. 8,537 food parcels in Norwich is 8,537 too many. We should all be free from hunger. No one should be pushed deeper into poverty without enough money for the things we all need. It’s not right that anyone needs a charity’s help with food in the first place-and we know our figures are just the tip of the iceberg, as different community organisations, independent food banks and local authorities have also been working to support our community.
“At the moment the situation is only set to get worse, as this is just the start of the cost of living crisis. But we know what’s pushing people to need foodbanks like ours, so we know what needs to be done. People cannot afford to wait any longer for support. UK, national and local governments at all levels 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,” said Hannah.
Pictured above is Norwich foodbank project manager Hannah Worsley.