North Bristol Foodbank has revealed its figures from April 2018 to March 2019, which show a huge increase in food bank usage over the last 12 months.
Their statistics show that they provided 4,536 three-day emergency food parcels to local people during that 12-month period – 1,809 of which went to children.
It’s a 9% increase on the same time period the previous year – but comparing January to April 2019 to January to April 2018 shows a hefty 30% rise. The increase, they say, is a result of people struggling with continued issues such as the five-week wait for Universal Credit.
These figures tie in with national figures, with the Trussell Trust reporting today that the UK has experienced a record increase in food bank use. North Bristol Foodbank is backing calls from the Trussell Trust to ensure the benefits system is able to protect people from poverty.
Universal Credit isn’t the only benefit payment those referred to the food bank have experienced problems with, but the issues local people face when moving onto the new system are significant. The food bank has needed to give emergency supplies and support to people waiting at least five weeks for their first UC payment, those who are unable to access support, and those who receive payments that fail to cover the cost of essentials.
Matt Dobson, food bank manager of North Bristol Foodbank, says: “No one in North Bristol should need a food bank’s help and we want to see an end to local people needing emergency food at all. It doesn’t have to be this way – our benefits system is supposed to protect us all from being swept into poverty. Universal Credit should be part of the solution but currently, the five-week wait is leaving many without enough money to cover the basics. This isn’t right.
“Until we reach a future where food banks are no longer needed, we’ll continue to provide vital support when it matters most. We’re dedicated to ensuring that people in our community without enough money for food are able to access emergency support. Our vital work in the community has only been possible in the last year because of the incredible generosity shown by local people in donating food, time and funds. Thank you.”
The running costs for the food bank are raised locally to enable them to continue their work. Costs include warehouse space, to sort and stock donated food; a van to pick up donated food and deliver to distribution centres; and other overheads like utilities and insurances. The food bank welcomes any new offers of help with funding – local businesses, organisations and individuals interested in supporting the food bank’s work can find out more on their website.