New figures show 30% increase in emergency food supplies given to local people by Northern Devon Foodbank in six months
Between 1st April and 30th September 2017, 2355 three day emergency food supplies were provided to local people in crisis by Northern Devon Foodbank, over 30% increase compared to the same period in the previous year. Of this number, 763 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 continued issues with benefit payments, low wages, insecure work, and a reduction of service from some local charities offering crisis support.
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 Northern Devon Foodbank traditionally sees a spike in foodbank use. The Foodbank is asking the community to help them prepare for their busiest time of year by donating urgently needed food items.
The Foodbank is concerned about the future rollout of full Universal Credit in the local area, following evidence from other foodbanks in the 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. The Foodbank is preparing to help prevent local people affected going hungry but is troubled by the extra pressure this puts on food donation stocks, volunteers and finance.
Duncan Withall, Chairman of Northern Devon Foodbank said:
“It’s really worrying that we are still seeing an increase in need for emergency food across the 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 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 running costs for the foodbank are around £35,000 a year, all of which is raised locally to enable them to continue their work. Costs include warehouse space, to sort and stock donated food, a van to pick up donated food and deliver to distribution centres, and other overheads like rent, utilities and 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 www.northerndevon.foodbank.org.uk