Life has got worse not better for the poorest in 2013/14

April 2014

  • 3,759 people received three days’ emergency food from Harlow Foodbank in 2013-14, compared to 2,246 in 2012-13
  • Over 900,000 people received three days’ emergency food from Trussell Trust foodbanks nationwide in 2013-14, compared to 346,992 in 2012-13
  • Foodbank figures are ‘tip of the iceberg’ of UK food poverty says Trussell Trust Chairman
  • Foodbank figures trigger biggest ever faith leader intervention on UK food poverty in modern times.

3,759 adults and children have received three days’ emergency food and support from Harlow Foodbank in the last 12 months, a shocking 67 percent rise on numbers helped in the previous financial year.  Despite signs of economic recovery, the poorest have seen incomes squeezed even more than last year reports The Trussell Trust, the UK’s largest foodbank network. More people are being referred to Trussell Trust foodbanks than ever before.

Static incomes, rising living costs, low pay, underemployment and problems with welfare, especially sanctioning, are significant drivers of the increased demand.  83 percent of foodbanks surveyed by The Trussell Trust recently reported that benefits sanctions, which have become increasingly harsh, have caused more people to be referred to them for emergency food in the last year.  Over 50 percent of referrals to foodbanks in 2013-14 were a result of benefit delays or changes.

Gary Knott, Director of Community Services for Harlow Foodbank commented

We’re seeing growing numbers turning to Harlow Foodbank for help, which shouldn’t be happening in the seventh richest country in the world.  But the reality is that life is very difficult for people on low incomes at the moment, and increasing numbers are struggling to make ends meet and are hitting a crisis where they cannot afford food.  We don’t think anyone should have to go hungry, which is why we’re so grateful for the incredible generosity of local people in donating food, funds and time to stop local hunger.

Last year local people donated over 65 tonnes of food to Harlow Foodbank, and over 113 people volunteered.  Local schools, businesses and faith groups have provided vital support to the foodbank, enabling us to give three days’ nutritionally balanced food and support to people in crisis.

Of the 3,759 people given three days’ emergency food, 1,036 were children.

The Trussell Trust’s Chairman, Chris Mould, says:

It is shocking that we’re seeing rising numbers of people need to turn to foodbanks in 21st century Britain. But perhaps most worrying of all is that Trussell Trust foodbank figures are just the tip of the iceberg of UK food poverty, it doesn’t include those helped by other emergency food providers, those living in towns where there is no foodbank, people who are too ashamed to seek help or the large number of people who are only just coping by eating less and buying cheap food.

That’s why urgent action needs to be taken to stop UK hunger.

Graph displays nationwide breakdown of primary reason for referral to foodbank

image003

As well as providing emergency food, Harlow Foodbank provides essentials like cleaning materials, nappies, toilet rolls and hygiene products to families who are at breaking point, as well as sign posting them to other services in the local area.image004

New letter marks biggest ever faith intervention on food poverty in modern times:

Today a letter co-signed by 36 Anglican Bishops and over 600 church leaders from all major denominations will call for urgent Government action to be taken on UK food poverty.  The letter, initiated by End Hunger Fast, will be delivered to the constituency offices of each of the three main party leaders by three church leaders who have been fasting for 40 days in solidarity with people facing hunger in the UK.  This will mark the biggest ever faith leader intervention on UK food poverty in modern times. 

There will also be a public vigil led by End Hunger Fast opposite Parliament at Old Palace Yard at 6pm.  At the vigil Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Senior Rabbi at Movement for Reform Judaism, will for the first time publicly express the cross-communal support of the Jewish community for action against UK food poverty.

Trussell Trust Chairman Chris Mould says:

We are encouraged that there is a growing public concern over the problem of UK hunger. Faith leaders, academics, charities and MPs are all standing up to say that hunger is not acceptable in Britain, and that is what gives us hope for change.