In 2022, our foodbanks provided emergency parcels for 4689 people, including 1772 children.
That’s 4689 people in our local area who did not have enough money to buy one of life’s most basic of necessities: food. (Many of these people would have been without other essentials as well including personal hygiene items, suitable clothes, and even a safe and warm place to live.)
It’s also nearly a 20% increase from 2021. To us, this demonstrates that the cost-of-living crisis is pushing more people into poverty, and that too little is being done to stop this from happening.
What it doesn’t demonstrate is the real-life impact this has on people in terms of their physical and mental health, their wider families, and our communities as a whole. Not to mention that these are only the people we know about who are struggling. Despite the very best efforts, stigma and shame still exist around poverty, and we know that there are many people who do not reach out for help even when they need it. In some cases, people are fortunate to have family, friends, church, or other communities they can turn to for support. (There are also other independent food aid providers in the area, whose data we don’t hold.) In many other cases, people simply suffer in silence.
We saw during the COVID-19 pandemic how communities galvanised to support each other, and how the government introduced targeted measures which really worked (namely the £20 per week uplift in UC). During the first few weeks of lockdown, we saw record need for our foodbanks as you might expect. But this stabilised, as pop-up food provisions opened, the £20 uplift was introduced, and communities rallied to make sure those most in need were provided for. In March 2020 we provided emergency food for 724 people. In December 2020 this same figure was 383, more than 200 less than last month, December 2022.
And so we call on our supporters and neighbours to do what they can to help us address this injustice. To put pressure on decision-makers and government to make choices that prioritise poverty reduction and putting an end to the need for foodbanks. It simply isn’t right that in 2023, in an area generally considered to be relatively prosperous, we expect thousands of people to rely on emergency food aid to put a meal on the table. Something else needs to change.