Posted by: Emily Twinch23/10/2012
The foodbank charity The Trussell Trust recently revealed that it had handed out emergency food to more than 100,000 people in the past six months in the UK.
Shockingly three new foodbanks are opening every week now in the UK to meet the growing demand.
The charity says since April 2012 it has fed almost 110,000 people across the UK compared to 128,697 in 2011/12.
And it anticipates things will get worse with the rising cost of food and fuel, high unemployment and the changes to the benefit system. It believed in 2012/13 it will end up feeding more than 200,000 families.
Charity Save the Children launched a report and started a campaign last month saying that one in eight of the poorest children in the UK go without at least one hot meal a day. One in 10 of the UK’s poorest parents cut back on food to ensure they provide for their children, the report found.
No doubt many of those struggling to make ends meet will be in social housing, or trying to meet their rent with housing benefit in the private rented sector.
Will people end up choosing between paying their rent and eating? And if keeping a roof over your head is better than getting a good meal, how are organisations like the Trussell Trust going to cope with such increased demand? Or, if the other way round, how are homeless charities going to cope? As the benefit cuts kick in, demand for these charities’ services will just go up and up.
The trust’s chief executive Chris Mould does say that: ‘The good news is that at a time of growing difficulty for people on low-incomes, communities across the country are pulling out the stops to start new foodbanks and people are donating more food to help those in crisis on their doorsteps.’
But it does seem like it shouldn’t have got to this stage. People surely shouldn’t have to rely on food handouts to survive? It can only be assumed that the government doesn’t intend to reduce benefits safe in the knowledge that people will still get food from charities. (Can’t it?).
Mr Mould adds: ‘The Trussell Trust has seen first-hand the devastating impact of rising food prices on people in poverty. Day in, day out, foodbanks already meet UK parents who are going without food to feed their children, or are forced to consider stealing to stop their children going to bed hungry.’
It’s no fun at the bottom of the income scale, and the immediate future is not bright. Christmas is likely to be a grim time – luckily the Trussell Trust give out Christmas hampers during the festive season.
But what can be done? What are the answers? What is the best way to ensure people have the basic necessities of life - heat, housing and food?
From Who cares?
Analysis of the latest developments in supported housing, homelessness and work with vulnerable people