More people than ever are turning to foodbanks as we head towards Christmas, according to charity The Trussell Trust, which today revealed that last year’s Christmas period was the busiest month of the year for national foodbanks.
Year on year December figures are also set to increase amid preparations for the charity’s busiest Christmas yet, with supporters being asked to donate as early as possible to help alleviate pressures on volunteers during the busy festive period.
The network provided 159,388 three-day emergency food supplies to people in crisis during December 2017. Of which 65,622 went to children. Nearly double the monthly average for the 2017-18 financial year.
The Trussell Trust said colder weather “heaps pressure” onto people already in crisis during the winter, increasingly families unable to cover the basic costs of living such as heating bills, food and other essentials.
But why the sudden increase? Earlier in November, the charity pointed to Universal Credit in driving the rise in foodbank use, after reporting a 13 per cent increase on the number of packages given out last year. The minimum five week wait for payment for those moving on to the controversial new benefits scheme, coupled with colder weather has left families already in crisis this winter unable to cover the basic costs of living such as heating bills, food and other essentials.
The Trussell Trust’s chief executive Emma Revie points the finger at the benefits system under fire across the country. “Our benefits system is supposed protect us all from being swept into poverty – but what we’re seeing is people struggling to heat homes and put food on the table because they simply cannot afford the basics anymore and that just isn’t right,” she said. “We know it doesn’t have to be like this. In the short-term we’re urging the public to donate generously during the first part of December and into the new year, as unfortunately the need for foodbanks is not going to end after Christmas.”
Meanwhile, with more than a million UK residents residing in ‘food deserts’, campaigners have claimed that more needs to be done in poorer communities to improve access to fresh food. Some of the impacted areas were identified as Hattersley in Greater Manchester, Rumney in Cardiff, Everton in Liverpool and Dalmarnock in Glasgow in a study published in October this year.
The Beast from the East and the summer of heat have also sent food prices soaring, which coupled with Brexit fears could make Christmas a lean affair all round with turkeys set to cost five times the price as last Christmas and potato shortages possible.