Trussell Trust have today issued their latest national figures showing that the Foodbank Network provided 1,182,954 three day emergency food supplies to people in crisis compared to 1,109,309 in 2015-16. Of this number, 436,938 went to children.
Wirral Foodbank provided over 11,978 three-day emergency food supplies to local people in crisis during 2016-17, compared to 11,736 in 2015-16. Of this number, 4,072 went to children. The top three reasons for foodbank referral were benefit delay 27%; low income 26% and benefit change 20%.
Last year, local people donated 109 tonnes of food to Wirral Foodbank. We had 297 people who gave of their time freely, volunteering at our Warehouse, Office, Distribution Centres, Supermarket collections and food collections. Local schools, businesses and church groups have provided vital support to the foodbank, enabling us to give three days’ nutritionally balanced food and support to people in crisis. Without all this support we could not have met the needs of the many people who used our Foodbank centres last year.
Trussell Trust has issued a new report, Early Warnings: Universal Credit and Foodbanks, highlighting that although the rollout of the new Universal Credit system for administering benefits has been piecemeal so far, foodbanks in areas of partial or full rollout are reporting significant problems with its impact. The report can be accessed in full via the following link.
Wirral is currently part of the Universal Credit pilot. It is understood that the full service will be in place across the whole of the Wirral by October 2017. Wirral Foodbank shares the concerns of other Trussell Trust foodbanks in Universal Credit rollout areas about the adverse side effects the new system can have on people. 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. Wirral Foodbank is working hard to stop local people affected going hungry but is troubled by the extra pressure this puts on food donation stocks and volunteers’ time and emotional welfare. Wirral Foodbank is already planning for the full roll out of Universal Credit and the potential pressure this will inevitably have on the service provided.
Richard Roberts, Foodbank Manager of Wirral Foodbank said:
“It is deeply concerning that we are still seeing an increase in the number of three day emergency food supplies provided to local people in crisis in Wirral over the last year. Anybody could find themselves in need of the foodbank. Every week people are referred to us after being hit by something unavoidable – such as illness, a delay in a benefit payment or an unexpected bill – means food is simply unaffordable. It really is only with the community’s support that we are able to provide vital emergency help when it matters most, and we hope that one day there will be no need for us in Wirral. But until that day comes, we will continue to offer the best possible service to help local people facing a crisis. Thank you so much to everyone in Wirral who already donates time, food and money to help local people. If you are not already involved, we would love to hear from you!
Despite generous donations of food, there are many hidden costs to run the foodbank. Costs include overheads such as utilities and building and vehicle insurances. 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 https://wirral.foodbank.org.uk”