The State of Hunger: the debt crisis facing households at food banks

22 Jun

This is the third blog in our series looking at the State of Hunger (2021), diving into key themes arising from the landmark study, and looking at their impact in focus. 

As our previous blogs have shown (here and here), people need to turn to food banks when they are forced to live on extremely low incomes. One of the many consequences of this, is the very high level of debt among people needing to turn to food banks. This creates a vicious circle for those individuals and families living on very low incomes who are forced to take on debt to pay for the essentials, with that debt in turn keeping them locked them in poverty.  

It is hard to find someone needing a food bank who is not living in some form of debt. 

On the eve of the pandemic, 90% of households surveyed at food banks were in debt, and a clear majority (60%) of households had both unpaid bills (e.g. electricity or rent) and owed money on loans (e.g. a bank loan, or a loan from friends or family). This puts debt problems well above those for working age adults in the general population (6%) and working age adults in relative poverty (15%). 

The fact that many more people at food banks are in debt compared to people in relative poverty highlights the particularly deep form of poverty which people at food banks are experiencing; almost all people referred to food banks are destitute, meaning they are unable to afford the basics. For certain groups these problems are even more acute. For example, households affected by disability are more likely than other households arriving at food banks to be in debt, to have accrued multiple debts, and for a higher proportion of their income to be swallowed up repaying these debts. This isn’t right. 

During the pandemic, many people have found themselves needing to take on extra debt – this risks a ticking time bomb, particularly since England’s evictions ban ended. 

State of Hunger has shown how the economic impact of Covid-19 has compounded the severity of debt people referred to food banks are facing across the board. In early 2020, a fifth (21%) of people needing to turn to a food bank were in arrears on three or more bills, but this rose to a third (33%) in mid-2020. 

During this time period, rent arrears have remained the most common type of arrears households at food banks have found themselves in, at around four in ten of those surveyed across the last two years. Food banks are likely to increasingly support people with rent arrears, with the Resolution Foundation estimating that the current rates of rent arrears are at least double the pre-Covid-19 ‘norm’.

This makes the ending of the eviction ban in England in June, particularly troubling, and without further financial support this risks pushing many into homelessness and in turn makes them more likely to need to turn to a food bank to get by.  

The most striking change since the pandemic hit has been the dramatic increase in the burden of government debt on people at food banks.

One particularly shocking finding from State of Hunger, was the sharp increase in the share of people at food banks owing money to the Department of Work and Pensions, from 26% in late 2018 to 38% in early 2020 and 47% in mid-2020.  

This debt has been driven by design features of the social security system, particularly the five week wait for a first Universal Credit payment, and the debt generated by taking on an advance payment to cover the wait. With record numbers of people moving onto Universal Credit, there has been a record number of people hit by this form of debt. 

The result is that it is now more common for people arriving at food banks to owe debt to the government than to private lenders or family and friends. This should be raising alarm bells across government and civil society, and prompt a rethink of the five week wait and the approach taken to the repayment of advances in particular. 

The UK Government has the power to lift the burden of debt facing people at food banks. It requires targeted efforts to minimise debts people are forced to take on as part of their benefit claim, and ensuring that people facing destitution are not forced to repay debts they simply cannot afford.  

This is crucial to ensuring we all have a strong enough lifeline when we face hard times, and to move a step closer to ending the need for food banks in the UK. 

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What’s happening at food banks as restrictions lift?

7 Jun

By Lynda Battarbee, Director of Operations

Since the start of the pandemic, food banks have been incredibly busy: dramatically changing the way support is given so it’s safe and secure for all involved – including staff, volunteers, and people using the food bank; providing 2.5 million emergency parcels to people; supporting with vital research throughout the pandemic; and coming together to call for long-term change to address the issues driving food bank use.

Food banks have provided phenomenal support in their local communities during the pandemic and local people have rallied around them, providing essential food, financial donations, and volunteer support to ensure food banks could continue offering vital services to people in crisis. That support has been invaluable, and we should be encouraged by the way people have pulled together.

But it’s not right that anyone in our country needs to receive free emergency food in order to get by. That’s why we’re also working towards a future where everyone has enough money for the basics. That’s why we’re waiting to see what the new Scottish and Welsh governments decide about how to reduce the need for food banks following out calls in the lead up to May’s elections. We’re working closely with food banks to identify effective ways of reducing the need for food banks, and we’re starting to implement our plans for building a future where everyone has enough money for the basics. You can read more about how we’re doing that here.

While we work towards that future, right now as restrictions lift at various rates across the UK food banks are also working out how to continue supporting their local community.

There’s no one size fits all approach. Every food bank in the Trussell Trust network, whether it’s in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, or England, is run by people in the community for the community – and each community is different.

Some food banks are able to meet people at a social distance to give food and signposting advice, some are continuing to deliver food to people’s homes, and some are doing a mix to make sure people can get the support they need in the way that best suits them.

At Smethwick Foodbank, the team have been providing a face-to-face outdoor service. Project Manager Janine explains:

“It’s been really busy – we’ve seen a huge increase in people needing us. We’ve not done any deliveries. Instead, we’ve been opening up in the front of the church and we do our meet and greet outside, in all weathers, under a gazebo. There’s been a lot of torrential rain in the last couple of weeks, but we’re hardy! It’s been good to see people and it’s great that our local Citizens ADvice is under the gazebo in every face-to-face food bank session so people can get advice there and then to make it less likely that they’ll need our help again.”

For South Belfast Foodbank, Bruce, the food bank’s Project Manager, explains:

“We’re delivery only at the moment – which is great, but it’s not us. We love the interactions with people face to face – we’re continuing home delivery for the foreseeable future and we’re putting together plans for some sort of in-person interaction with people later this year. We don’t have any firm plans but we’re quite a busy food bank, and even before lockdown we didn’t have the time and space to do sessions exactly as we’d like – so we don’t want to rush back into what we used to do. We’re going to take this time to think about how we might do things differently, how we can signpost each person to other advice and support, and really give each person quality time.”

For West Lothian Foodbank, deliveries have been crucial in getting support to people, as Project Manager Kathleen makes clear:

“When Covid hit, we switched form running 11 centres where people could come in person to running a delivery service almost overnight, which was tough going. We now have a fleet of four vans delivering parcels – last year was our busiest ever. At the moment, the churches that our centres are normally in are only just starting to open up, we’re in the middle of moving warehouse, and a lot of our volunteers are older, so we’re not rushing into changing things. We’re going to keep delivering parcels, see what happens with Covid, and then in the summer we’ll be able to think more about whether to change things.”

There’s no one thing food banks are deciding to do as lockdowns lift – each is working out what’s needed in their communities in order to provide emergency support safely. So, if you want to find out how best to support your local food bank as we move out of lockdown, it’s best to take a local approach!

You can check what support your local food bank most needs by following their social media channels or checking their website (find your nearest one by popping in your postcode here). You can check which items of food are most needed by using this tool, and you can look for volunteering opportunities in your area here.

This has been an incredibly difficult year for so many people. But with your support, food banks can provide emergency help and work towards a hunger free future where we all have enough money for the basics. This can change.

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The inspiring stories of food bank volunteers

7 Jun

We are always blown away by the incredible commitment of food bank volunteers. Faced with a year of change, face masks, and social distancing, the 28,000+ volunteers across the network have shown amazing resilience over the past year, adjusting to new ways of operating, moving to remote support, and processing unprecedented levels of donations and demand. Every day we are both inspired and humbled by the difference volunteers make, giving their time and expertise for free to help make us the best we can be.

As part of Volunteers’ Week, we’ve asked volunteers to share their stories and let us know what being a food bank volunteer means to them. Here’s what they told us:

Alice, Carrickfergus Foodbank

“Having lost our family home and business at the time of the financial crash, I know what it is to face crisis and to need support and come out the other side. I understand how people can feel embarrassed and sceptical about using a food bank, but so many when they come through the doors realise there is care and support. The fact that the food bank is confidential was a key factor for me.”

Anonymous, Norwich Foodbank

“I wanted to volunteer for the food bank, as I found the thought of fellow human beings in the UK going hungry so distressing. Being a shift worker, I could never really help out apart from money and the odd supermarket collection. When Covid hit and I was furloughed, I managed to get three shifts a week at the food bank warehouse. I’m welling up writing this, it totally saved me.

“I had no direction whatsoever in life except to the off licence, I don’t think I would have got through 2020 without knowing I was helping others, and this gave me a purpose to get up each day and appreciate life. Each shift was full of lovely people, we had a laugh, and then each Friday an email would arrive explaining how everyone’s efforts had contributed to helping others – it was such a lift. I went back to work in November a different person.”

Anonymous, North Liverpool Foodbank

“I started volunteering at the food bank originally as I was early on in recovery from alcoholism and mental health problems, and I knew I wasn’t quite ready for work. I needed to build my confidence up and felt this would be a good way to start. I suffer with anxiety and I don’t go out much due to this and ill health, so I was very isolated. I was nervous to start but I was made to feel part of the team straight away. The team were so supportive in the office and the food bank; they knew my background, yet any help I could offer was grateful welcomed.

“I have been shown nothing but kindness and care by the staff and volunteers. It’s like being part of a big family and that we matter just as much as the people visiting the food bank. It’s just a pleasure to volunteer there. My confidence is growing, I have a purpose now, and I feel like the experience could potentially lead to work. It has definitely been a great experience for me. One I can highly recommend!”

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Scottish Tech Army: celebrating volunteer partnerships

1 Jun

As a charity, we hugely value the time, skils, and experience provided by the network’s 28,000 food bank volunteers. As part of our commitment to them, we launched a project in March 2020 to provide all of the food banks in the Trussell Trust network with access to Assemble, a volunteer management system. Assemble is a comprehensive volunteering system focused on empowering and supporting volunteers, streamlining processes, and celebrating the impact and contribution made by both individuals and teams.

We’re delighted to now have over 100 food banks up and running on Assemble, something we couldn’t have done without the support of the Scottish Tech Army.

The Scottish Tech Army (STA) is a not-for-profit company created to help public and third sector organisations with their Covid-19 technical response. They approached us last year to see if they could help and we’ve been so grateful for their expertise and commitment. Led by John and Willie, they have been linking directly with food banks in Scotland, guiding volunteer managers around the system, training them on key functionality, demonstrating the associated app, and answering questions. More recently, they’ve been hosting online volunteer training sessions open to food bank volunteers throughout the UK to build confidence, answer questions, and deepen understanding. These sessions will be continuing over the coming months as an extra, and greatly valued, support stream for those coming onto the system for the first time.

Assemble offers a fantastic way for food banks to support their volunteers and provide an outstanding volunteering experience, but that does mean some changes in how things are done. This Volunteers’ Week, we’ll not only be honouring the incredible effort of food bank volunteers, but also the amazing support given to STA volunteers who have enabled food banks to navigate system changes with ease.

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Amazing fundraising in Aylesbury

1 Jun

By Susan, Aylesbury

When the pandemic hit last year, I realised so many people were going through hardship and couldn’t afford the basics, such as food. So, I started thinking how I could help and do my bit for the community.

People contribute and support food banks in any way they can: some hold coffee mornings to raise money while others might make cakes. I love gardening and I have a big garden with lots of plants, so I thought why not share them with other people to support a good cause? In April 2020 I set up a stall outside my house and started selling my plants. The idea turned out to be a success and it was really appreciated by passers-by: it raised £700 for Aylesbury Foodbank.

This year, I decided to share my passion and my garden with our neighbours and visitors once again: my stall outside the house is up and running! But this year there is more.

As the chairman of the Quainton Gardening Society, when two of our members suggested to open our gardens to visitors -something we have not done in a really long time – I thought it would be another great opportunity to raise money for charity. On the weekend of 22 May, six gardens in the village of Quainton opened their gates to visitors between 2pm and 5pm and half of the money raised by this event will go to Aylesbury Foodbank.

We know that the reason why people do not have the money to afford food and essentials is a complicated multi-faceted problem, caused among other issues by unemployment, family breakdown and health problems. Supporting food banks at this time is really important, here and now people going though hardship need help and this is my way to contribute towards a hunger free future.

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A new partnership with Clarion Futures

18 May

We’re excited to announce our new partnership with Clarion Futures, the charitable foundation of Clarion Housing Group which is the UK’s largest provider of affordable housing.

Clarion staff have been able to refer residents to food banks for some time, but this new approach enables Clarion Futures staff to issue electronic vouchers, streamlining the referral process and enabling people in crisis to receive emergency food more quickly from food banks in the Trussell Trust network.

Last year, food banks in our network provided a record 2.5 million emergency food parcels to people in crisis, a shocking 33% increase in need on the previous year. Almost a million of these parcels went to children. Need at food banks has been increasing year-on-year, and these new figures highlight an alarming 128% rise compared to this time five years ago. This simply isn’t right.

The findings of recent surveys conducted by Clarion to explore the impact of the pandemic on its residents align with this, highlighting the financial issues affecting households in recent months. Research conducted during May to June and November to December 2020 found a significant increase in people worried about money issues, with 14% more people reporting concerns in winter compared to the previous summer.

The number of people forced to go without food because they couldn’t afford it rose from 8% in the summer to 11% in the winter, and the number of residents needing to use a food bank increased from 7% to 12%.

Food banks across the UK help to tackle these issues, enabling people to receive emergency food and wider support when faced with a crisis. As Steph Noyce, Head of Money and Digital at Clarion Futures, notes, “There is no one-size-fits-all approach to alleviating poverty. It’s not just about putting food on the table – it’s about tackling the underlying issues causing food insecurity.” Clarion Futures provides its residents and communities with holistic, personalised support, from free debt and money management advice to help in securing paid employment.

When Danielle was left struggling when she had to give up her job to look after her two younger siblings, this partnership provided a lifeline. While she and her partner waited for her Universal Credit claim to be processed, they were stretched to breaking point. Thanks to our partnership, Clarion Futures was able to refer Danielle to a food bank in the Trussell Trust network for both emergency food and support exploring employment opportunities that fit around her responsibilities. The partnership is already making a real difference, and we’re excited to work together to create meaningful change.

As the impact of the pandemic continues to make itself felt, more and more people are likely to need a food bank’s support. And while food banks across the country are working tirelessly to make sure they can be there for their communities, it isn’t right that anyone should need a food bank. The support of partners like Clarion Futures is vital in making sure that we can continue to support food banks now as we work together towards a hunger free future where we all have enough money for the basics.

 

 

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The State of Hunger  – a foundation for a plan to end the need for food banks

14 May

By Tom Weekes, Research Manager

Yesterday the Trussell Trust released the second State of Hunger report, a comprehensive study of the scale and drivers of hunger in the UK. The report was launched at the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Ending the Need for Food Banks as part of a wide-ranging discussion of food bank use and destitution, including how to tackle the key drivers of both. The insight provided by the report provides the first step in developing a plan to ensure no one has to be forced to use a food bank.

The cross-party group heard from panellists including Crossbench Peer and former government advisor on social policy Dame Louise Casey, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s Helen Barnard, the Trussell Trust’s Emma Revie, and Conservative Peer and Chief Executive of the Legatum Institute Baroness Stroud.

While reflecting on the last year, the discussion broadly welcomed the efforts that the UK Government had made to prevent more people falling into destitution, including the furlough scheme and the £20 uplift to Universal Credit. At the same time, panellists across the board recognised that this was not enough to mitigate fully the severe impact of the pandemic on levels of destitution and poverty across the UK.

The panel challenged the UK government to do more. As Dame Louise Casey had earlier written, “The need for food banks is such a sign of failure and it does not have to be this way.” They called on the Government to build a plan to end the need for food banks and ensure that the UK Government’s focus on levelling up includes jobs, incomes, and decent living standards for people.

This year’s report provides a depth of information to form the basis of a plan to end the need for food banks. It confirms the previous findings and expands our understanding of what is driving hunger across the UK.

It highlights three key themes:

  1. Levels of need are driven by a fundamental lack of income.

The vast majority (95%) of people referred to food banks in early 2020 were destitute, meaning that their income was so low that they were unable to afford the essentials in life that we all need. These include essentials such as food, basic toiletries, and clothing. On average the level of income after housing costs for people at food banks was just £248 a month.

In early 2020 95% of people referred to food banks were destitute. The average equivalised monthly income for people referred to food banks. This was just 13% of the UK average.
  1. The design of the social security system is the key driver of low income.

Low income was mainly driven by issues with the social security system, most commonly because of the design of the system itself. During the pandemic we have seen this play out:

of people referred to food banks in mid-2020 owed money to the DWP, up from 38% before the pandemic. of people referred to food banks in mid-2020 in receipt of Universal Credit were repaying an Advance Payment.
  1. Certain groups face a disproportionate risk of needing support than others.

The report highlights that some groups are significantly overrepresented when looking at people that need support from food banks This includes disabled people, with six in ten (62%) of working-age people referred to a food bank in early 2020 reporting having a disability – that’s more than three times the rate in the UK working age population. Single parents, people living alone, and homeless people are also overrepresented.

During the pandemic, these groups largely stayed the same with some key differences. During the pandemic people referred to food banks were more likely to:

11% vs. 2% in early 2020 72% vs. 51% in early 2020 62% vs. 54% in early 2020 24% of households vs. 19% in early 2020
  • First, our social security system must provide everyone with enough income to afford the essentials.
  • Second, local lifelines must be available to get people the right support at the right time.
  • Third, if any strategy tackling hunger and destitution in the UK is to have any weight, it must involve the frontline, including organisations like food banks, and – crucially – people with lived experience.

The evidence from this report can form the basis of a plan to end the need for food banks. To support this we will, alongside speaking to those in power and working with our partners, be writing a regular blog series to unpick these findings in detail, looking at the drivers of need for food banks and the groups most at risk of needing support.

You can help us as we push for a plan to end the need for food banks by signing up to be part of the conversation for a hunger free future at: http://www.trusselltrust.org/hungerfree.

 

 

 

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People forced to use food banks at the start of the pandemic faced extreme poverty

13 May

People forced to food banks at the start of the pandemic faced extreme poverty, with just £248 a month to survive on after housing costs, according to new research.

The Trussell Trust calls for government at all levels to commit to working to end the need for food banks for good as it launches study at cross-party political event.

Today, the Trussell Trust reveals State of Hunger 2021, a follow-up to the most authoritative piece of independent research into hunger in the UK to date. Commissioned by the charity and conducted by Heriot-Watt University, the study sheds light on the groups of people across the UK disproportionately affected by hunger and the drivers behind food bank use.

More than six in ten (62%) of working-age people referred to a food bank in early 2020 were disabled – that’s more than three times the rate in the UK working age population. And single parent families are more likely to be forced to a food bank, with almost one in five (18%) of households referred to food banks during the pandemic being single parents – that’s more than twice the rate in the general population (8%).

The charity says hunger in the UK isn’t about food, it’s about people not having enough money for the basics. The research shows extremely low income is a key factor in driving people to food banks. In early 2020, the average monthly household income after housing costs for people who needed to use a food bank was £248 on average, or £8 a day for a couple without children. This needs to cover energy and water costs, council tax, food, and other essentials and is just 13% of the average national income.

In fact, in early 2020 95% of people referred to food banks in the Trussell Trust network were living in ‘destitution’ – this means people cannot afford to eat and stay warm and dry.

The main reason people had such low income was due to social security payments failing to cover the cost of living, according to the research. This was more often than not due to the design of the system, including issues such as the five-week wait for a first Universal Credit payment and low levels of payments.

Worringly, the charity says people living in destitution risk being further pulled under by difficulties such as debt and mental health issues. The research finds in mid-2020 nine in 10 households at food banks were in debt, while six in 10 had arrears on bills and owed money on loans.

In mid-2020, 47% of all people using food banks and 41% of disabled people referred were indebted to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), making it the most common creditor to people at food banks. People experiencing poor mental health referred to food banks in the Trussell Trust network grew from around half (51%) in early 2020 to almost three quarters (72%) in mid-2020.

With high rates of unemployment and redundancies, the charity says more people than never are now likely to need the social security system to provide a lifeline to keep them afloat. The charity says this should start with keeping the £20 increase to Universal Credit introduced during the pandemic but set to be removed in the autumn.

The findings will be discussed by panelists such as Dame Louise Casey and Baroness Stroud at an All-Party Parliamentary Group event on destitution later today.

Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, said:

“How can anyone in this country stay warm and dry and buy food on just £248 a month after rent? People strugggling in extreme poverty are pushed to the doors of food banks because they do not have enough money to survive. Hunger in the UK isn’t about food – it’s about people not being able to afford the basics.

“We know we can change this. We need to change the conversation around poverty and take action together. We need government at all levels to commit to ending the need for food banks once and for all and to develop a plan to do so. It’s time for government to make this a priority – to recognise that it must be an essential part of their levelling up agenda to work towards a hunger free future where we can all afford the basics.”

Dame Louise Casey, former government adviser on social policy, said:

“This research today by the Trussell Trust is deeply worrying, with record food bank use showing that too many people have been pushed into hardship by the pandemic.

“We have to stand together as we pull through this pandemic and not leave people behind, forced to rely on food banks to keep going. That is an abject failure by government and all of us. Food aid should be a one off in the UK, not a new form of charity.

“It is in this Government’s gift to end hunger, but it warrants a concerted cross-government and cross-party action – a plan to end the need for food banks, delivered as an urgent priority.”

The Trussell Trust is urging the public to sign up to its Hunger Free Future movement trusselltrust.org/hungerfree to become part of a new conversation about how, together, we can end the need for food banks.

ENDS     

Contact       

The report will go live on Thursday May 13, at trusselltrust.org. Contact the Trussell Trust for a copy of the embargoed report on 020 3137 3699 or press@trusselltrust.org     

Notes to editors   

  1. The State of Hunger is a three-year independent research programme, commissioned by the Trussell Trust and conducted by I-SPHERE at Heriot-Watt University. It is the largest study of hunger in the UK. 
  2. ASDA’s Fight Hunger Create Change partnership funded this study and has enabled food banks in the Trussell Trust network to support more people in crisis with access to food and advice servicesto help tackle the root causes of poverty. 
  3. The main report provides robust evidence on the experiences of those in the UK affected by hunger, and the drivers of food bank use. The main report can be read here. 
  4. It utilises a wide range of surveys, interviews and statistical analysis to draw these conclusions. The conclusion on the relationship between low income and social security is drawn from across these data sources.  
  5. The main data in this report refers to people referred to food banks in the Trussell Trust network. Significant populations of people are supported by independent food banks.  
  6. Data on people referred to food banks in the Trussell Trust network in early 2020 refers to a survey of 716 adults 18+ conducted face to face at 43 food banks in the Trussell Trust network between 15 January and 12 March 2021.  
  7. Data on people referred to food banks in the Trussell Trust network in mid-2020, or referenced as ‘during the pandemic’ refers to a survey of 436 adults 18+ conducted online, with invitations issued by 43 food banks in the Trussell Trust network. Fieldwork was conducted between 22 June to 30 July 2020.  
  8. In early 2020 the equivalised monthly household income (after housing costs) of households referred to food banks was £248. This increased to £335 after the first few weeks of the pandemic, most likely due to the £20 increase in the weekly rate of the Universal Credit Standard Allowance.  
  9. People taking part in the early 2020 survey are classed as disabled according to the Equality Act 2010 definition of disability.  
  10. The definition of destitution is derived by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. More information can be found here. 
  11. The growth in the proportion of people living with poor mental health is reported on whether anyone in the referred household has poor mental health.  
  12. For December 2020 to February 2021 the unemployment rate for those aged 16+ was 4.9%, up from 4.0% in the previous year. Labour Market Overview 
  13. Redundancies have reached record levels during the pandemic and increased by a historic 181,000 between Q2 2020 and Q3 2020, a 138% increaseLabour Market Overview 

About the Trussell Trust:   

  • We’re here to end the need for food banks in UK.     
  • We support a UK-wide network of more than 1,300 food bank centres and together we provide emergency food and support to people locked in poverty, and campaign for change to end the need for food banks in the UK.     
  • Our most recent figures for the number of emergency food supplies provided by our network: trusselltrust.org/news-and-blog/latest-stats/     
  • The Trussell Trust’s food bank network brings together volunteers, staff and supporters of all faiths and none to make a difference. Local churches play a vital part in this work, with around 12,000 churches actively involved in donating food, and providing venues, volunteers and financial support for food banks.    
  • You can read more about our work at trusselltrust.org.    

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A nationwide writing challenge for kids!

10 May

In the UK right now, more people than ever are facing extreme poverty, unable to afford the basics or put food on the table. Last year, food banks in our network gave out more than 2.5 million emergency food parcels to people in crisis – and almost a million of these were provided for children.

This simply isn’t right, but we know that together we can make change happen. More than 100,000 people have already signed up for our Hunger Free Future campaign, standing alongside us and people forced to use food banks to call for change. Will you join us?

As part of the campaign, we’ve launched an exciting new competition for children aged nine and under across the country to get involved and tell us what they think about poverty and hunger in the UK.

We’re asking children to get creative and take on our “Bye, Bye Hunger” writing challenge. It’s a great opportunity to have fun and do something new alongside learning about poverty and thinking about how they can make a difference.

All they need to do is think of a character, whether it’s an animal, an alien, or a monster, and write a poem telling us why they’re hungry. How does being hungry make them feel? What would make them happier? What would their character do if they weren’t hungry?

You can find more details on how to enter and our entry form here. The closing date is 30 May, and the winning poems will be published in an exclusive book and ebook.

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Acceptable? A poem calling for change

27 Apr

This week, we released a brand new video of an incredible poem ‘Acceptable’ – have you seen it yet?

Written by Caroline, one of the thousands of people who’ve signed up to help us build a hunger free future, and read by food bank volunteers and staff from the UK, it describes what it’s really like to need to use a food bank, and should inspire us all to stop, reflect, and take action.

Last year, food banks in our network gave out more than 2.5 million emergency food parcels to people in crisis. Almost a million of these were provided for children.

Things like ill health or a job loss can happen to any of us – but if these hit someone when they don’t have enough support in place, it can make it more difficult to afford the essentials.

In the world’s fifth richest country, is it acceptable that anyone should need to use a food bank? That anyone should be unable to put food on the table, or struggle to pay for the basics?

It’s time for change. This simply isn’t right, and we need to make sure that strong lifelines exist to help all of us when we need it. Food bank use across our network is 128% higher now compared to the same time five years ago, and it’s time to stand up and say that we cannot accept this. We do not accept it.

Together, we know we can make change happen. Watch the full video now and share it with your friends and family now to get involved.

The post Acceptable? A poem calling for change appeared first on The Trussell Trust.