New figures show 16.6% increase in emergency food supplies given to local people by Colchester Foodbank charity in six months
Between 1st April and 30th September 2017, a total of 2,874 three day emergency food supplies were provided to local people in crisis by Colchester Foodbank, compared to 2,464 the same period in the previous year. Of this number, 1,005 went to children compared to 881 the same period last year an increase of 14.1% and 1869 went to adults compared to 1,583 the same period last year an increase of 18%. 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 Universal Credit roll out in the area; continued delay issues with benefit payments; low wages; insecure work and an ongoing reduction in statutory and voluntary support services available to those in need.
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. Colchester Foodbank is asking the community to help them prepare for their busiest time of year by donating urgently needed food items and/or getting involved as a volunteer.
Colchester Foodbank shares the concerns of other Trussell Trust foodbanks in full Universal Credit rollout areas about the issues people referred to the charity 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. Colchester Foodbank is working hard to help prevent local people affected going hungry but is troubled by the extra pressure this puts on food donation stocks and volunteers’ capacity.
Michael Beckett, Colchester Foodbank charity’s Interim Manager said:
“It’s really worrying that we’ve now seen a 16.6% increase in need for emergency food across Colchester area. 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 in crisis, 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!”
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.”
The running costs for the foodbank are around £1,500 each month, all of which is raised locally to enable them to continue their work. Costs include warehouse space, to sort and stock donated food, pick up donated food, storage containers and other overheads like utilities and insurances. The foodbank welcomes any new offers of help with funding https://www.justgiving.com/colchester-foodbank
Local businesses, organisations and individuals interested in supporting the foodbank’s work can find out more at https://colchester.foodbank.org.uk/give-help/donate-money