Yorkshire foodbank numbers hit record high as ‘crisis-hit’ turn for help

A foodbank in Leeds.
A foodbank in Leeds.
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FOODBANK use in Yorkshire has more than doubled in the last three years to new record levels, new figures have revealed.

More than 65,000 food packages were handed out at the Trussell Trust’s 25 foodbanks in Yorkshire over the last financial year - eight per more than in 2014/15 and more than double that of 2013/14, when 32,607 emergency supplies were given to people in crisis by the charity in Yorkshire.

Foodbanks in numbers

Foodbanks in numbers

More than third of the three-day food packages handed out in Yorkshire last year, 23,910, went to children.

Across the UK, the Trussell Trust handed out a record 1.1m packages at its 424 foodbanks - with increases at almost half of foodbanks due to the crippling affects of benefit sanctions and delays, low wages, high living costs and insecure work contracts.

Trust chief executive David McAuley said: “Today’s figures on national food bank use prove that the numbers of people hitting a crisis where they cannot afford to buy food are still far too high.

“One million three-day food supplies given out by our food banks every year is one million too many.

“Reducing UK hunger will require a collective effort from the voluntary sector, Government, businesses and the public, and the Trussell Trust is keen to work with all these groups to find solutions that stop so many people needing food banks in future.”

Across Yorkshire, 40,000 volunteers helped at foodbanks last year, and the public donated 551 tonnes of food.

The foodbank at the Jubilee Centre in Hull has been open since November 2011. In that time, it has been forced to expand from opening just two days a week to five days a week to meet demand.

It now is the busiest Trussell Trust foodbank in Yorkshire, last year handing out 5,151 emergency parcels. Almost a third of the people referred to them need support due to benefits delays, and two in five seek help because they are on a low income and “really struggling to make ends meet.”

Manager Sarah Sidwell said: “When people come to us they can look as if they are caught in the headlight, clinging on to their referral vouchers and fearing they will be judged.

“But you can see an instant change in them once they have spoken to our fantastic volunteers and received their food - the weight has been lifted from their shoulders.”

Last week, one of those helped was Richard, who was unable to work due to cancer. His problems were compounded when an admin issue delayed his benefits.

Mrs Sidwell said: “The food supply and the information the volunteer gave him made him feel a lot more at ease and hopeful for the future.”

Researchers from the University of Hull have worked with the Trust to chart the crises that lead to foodbank use, has found that usage is highest in area where there are more people who are unable to work due to long term sickness or disability; or in skilled manual work. There is also a clear link between foodbank use and areas of high deprivation.

Mr McAuley said: “Both The Trussell Trust’s data and the University of Hull research point to an urgent need to find ways to help reduce the numbers of people experiencing problems with benefits, especially vulnerable people receiving sickness and disability benefits.

“We also need to ensure that people on low incomes or in insecure work have enough to live on. The introduction of a national living wage is a great start, but more can be done for those in low paid work and unable to work.”

A Government spokesman said: “Reasons for foodbank use are complex so it is misleading to link them to any one thing.

“This Government is determined to move to a higher-wage society, introducing the new National Living Wage that will benefit over one million workers directly this year, and we’re also spending £80 billion on working-age benefits to ensure a strong safety net for those who need it most. The vast majority of benefits are processed on time and the number of sanctions have actually gone down.”