Food banks across the UK have become a source of emergency support for those in most urgent need of food supplies. Over the past few weeks Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Conservative parliamentary candidate for North Northumberland, has been visiting food banks in her area to get a better understanding of the reasons for those in food poverty needing to access the food bank resource.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan, said: “In order to tackle food poverty we need to understand what has caused it. This is why I have visited several of Northumberland’s food banks to hear for myself from the people who are relying on food parcels and those responding to these needs.”
The users of food banks in Northumberland all come to the food banks after a referral from the social services, Citizens Advice Bureaus or other groups like Sure Start. The reasons given are often welfare payment sanctions, delays in benefits being paid, or other financial pressures leaving families with no money to buy food.
Anne-Marie continued: “I am concerned by the recurring message from the volunteers who run our local food banks, that the majority of those who come to them do so because the benefits system is not working. It should be there to support those who need a safety net whilst they find work or sort out long term support . There seems to be some serious breakdown in the effective management of the payments system. I am going to be talking in more detail with our job centre teams to try to find out what they need to solve this issue effectively.”
Anne-Marie added “My wider concern is that whilst many people are seeking an emergency food parcel due to a time delay in benefits payments, to which they are entitled, there are other users who are in need of wider support to help get their lives back on track. From personal accounts that I have heard, there are gaps in support services to help them achieve that.”
According to figures released by the UK's biggest food bank network The Trussell Trust, the number of people relying on food banks to survive has tripled over the last year. * This figure was nearly 100,000 more than anticipated and close to triple the number helped in 2011-12.
In 2013, almost 350,000 people in the UK received at least three days’ emergency food from the Trussell Trust. Last week, David Cameron said in the Commons that he would meet the Trussell Trust to discuss the big challenges with which they are tackling.
If you wish to donate goods or funds to support one of Northumberland’s local food banks, please do contact Anne-Marie on email@example.com and she can put you in touch with the one nearest you.