Social Justice

Food banks forced to close as UK heatwave sees temperatures soar

As the UK faces a heatwave with temperatures set to hit 41C, a number of food banks across the country will be shut until Wednesday.

Food banks/ heatwave

Food banks are having to take precautions to help volunteers through the heatwave. Image: Unsplash

Food banks have been forced to close as the heatwave brings record-breaking temperatures to the UK.

As temperatures are predicted to hit more than 41C, a number of food banks across the country will be shut on Monday and Tuesday. Others have had to adjust their working conditions to ensure people’s safety.

Sabine Goodwin, coordinator of the Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN), said: “Soaring temperatures will inevitably hit people living on low incomes the hardest. Job centre, advice centre and food bank closures will be sure to make matters worse for people struggling to get by. 

“Food bank teams are already being pushed to breaking point as they try to source supplies and cope with rising demand. The heat emergency adds yet more challenges to their work and yet again the government is asking too much of volunteers and food aid charities at the brink of collapse.”

The Trussell Trust’s Stratford-upon-Avon food bank is closed for both food parcel collections and food donations “due to the extreme heat and to ensure the safety of volunteers”. 

Burngreave food bank in Sheffield is also closed and unable to accept donations on Monday, and Ely food bank in Cambridgeshire will be closed until Wednesday. Hackney food bank is closed for donations on Monday and Tuesday, although its distribution centres remain open.

Closed food banks have contact details listed on their website and social media, and people who urgently need food should contact them directly for alternative options.

Rachel Macklin, spokesperson at the Trussell Trust, said: “Food banks in our network are doing everything they can to continue to support people through the current high temperatures. 

“Some food banks may need to adapt the way they operate over the next few days to ensure the safety of staff, volunteers and the people who need their support to accommodate the unprecedented weather conditions.

“For example, some food banks may have considered changing their warehouse sessions or delivering food parcels to people’s homes. Where this is the case food banks are providing local information about alternative ways to access support while they continue to monitor national and local guidance. We encourage people to contact their local food bank directly if they require more information.”

The IFAN said 93 per cent of organisations saw an increase in the need for their services between January and May 2022. Meanwhile, 78 per cent of these faced a drop in donations.

At a time when frontline teams are “already being pushed to breaking point”, food banks have had to change their routine operations to adjust to the extreme temperatures. Jo Belshaw, the operational manager for One Can Trust, an independent food bank in Buckinghamshire, said the most significant impact of the heat has been for their volunteers and drivers. 

They have tried to keep deliveries per person to a minimum and have provided drivers with bottles of water.

Belshaw added the organisation has made these adjustments so they can continue helping the community. People should continue to seek help if they need it, despite the hot weather. 

You can find your local food bank through the Trussell Trust’s website or the IFAN’s member’s map. You can also call the Trussell Trust’s free helplines and talk to a trained adviser. It’s 0808 208 2138 if you live in England or Wales, and 0800 915 4604 if you live in Northern Ireland. You should contact your local council if you live in Scotland. You can find advice and cash first support options through the IFAN’s cash first referral leaflets.

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