Between 1st April and 30th September 2017, 516 three day emergency food supplies were provided to local people in crisis by Oswestry and Borders Foodbank, compared to the same period in the previous year. Of this number, 363 went to children. The foodbank, a member of The Trussell Trust’s network which has today reported an increase in UK foodbank use, believes the local increase is due to people struggling with low wages; insecure work; benefit changes and delays, sickness and those with no fixed address.
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.
Oswestry and Borders Foodbank is concerned about the future rollout of full Universal Credit in the local area, following evidence from other foodbanks in The Trussell Trust’s network about the issues people referred to them 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. Oswestry and Borders Foodbank is preparing to help prevent local people affected going hungry but is troubled by the extra pressure this puts on food donation stocks and volunteers’ capacity. Additionally, an IT Drop in on Wednesdays from 10am to 12 noon is available for job searches, benefit checks and maintaining Universal Credit accounts. Volunteer mentors will be available to help.
Liz Jermy, Foodbank Manager of Oswestry and Borders Foodbank said:
“Every week people are referred to us after something unavoidable – like illness, a delayed benefit payment or an unexpected bill – means there’s no money for food. It’s only with local people’s help that we’re able to provide vital support when it matters most, and whilst we hope one day there’ll be no need for our work, until that day comes we’ll be working hard to help prevent people going hungry. Thank you so much to everyone who already donates time, food and money to help local people. If you’re not already involved, we’d love to hear from you!” .
The foodbank welcomes any new offers of help with funding – local businesses, organisations and individuals interested in supporting the foodbank’s work can find out more at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.oswestryandborders.foodbank.org.uk.
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.”