Rise in people in financial crisis seeking emergency food


- Credit: Archant

A charity has said “demand is growing” for emergency food as more and more people are experiencing financial crisis.

The Letchworth Foodbank – which has distribution points in Letchworth GC, Hitchin and Baldock – and the Stevenage Community Food Bank – which supports people living in Stevenage and Knebworth – help people who find themselves in sudden, short-term financial crisis.

Run by the Trussell Trust, the Letchworth Foodbank offers people three days’ supply of food up to three times a year, while the Stevenage Community Food Bank, run independently by volunteers in the area, offers three weeks’ supply of food up to three times a year.

Letchworth Foodbank’s chairman, Ciaran McGill, said: “Demand is growing as more and more residents have found themselves in short-term financial crisis, and we rely solely on donations.”

A £5,000 grant has been given to the Letchworth Foodbank by the Hertfordshire Welfare Assistance Scheme, following a successful bid from the North Herts and District Citizens’ Advice Bureau (CAB) based on increased pressure on the foodbank.

The North Herts and District CAB said reasons for the increase in demand include lengthening delays in receiving benefits and increasing pressure on those in low-wage employment to make ends meet.

The rising cost of living, static incomes and unemployment are also to blame.

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Rionach Aiken, chief executive of the North Herts and District CAB, said: “We increasingly see many more clients who are suffering financial crises.

“Receiving stop-gap help from a local foodbank provides breathing space for individuals and families, so they can get back on their feet again.”

With more than 300 foodbanks across the UK, the Trussell Trust says it has seen the biggest rise in people given emergency food since the charity began in 2000.

Almost 350,000 people nationwide received at least three days emergency food during 2012/13 – nearly triple the number helped in 2011/12.

And, according to the Debt Advisory Centre, 18.7% of UK adults say they borrowed money to pay for groceries last month.

Those borrowing money to pay for food has tripled from 3.02 million in July last year to 9.4 million in February this year.

Ian Williams, spokesman for the Debt Advisory Centre, said: “It’s very worrying people have to borrow to pay for food at all, but the fact this figure is rising so sharply is a real cause for concern. Borrowing to pay for food is a danger sign that your household finances are out of control.”