AN ‘ALARMING’ 34 per cent rise in Foodbank use has been recorded in Rugby over the last year.
Rugby Foodbank distributed nearly 7,400 emergency food parcels to people facing hardship in the past 12 months – more than 2,800 of them to children – making it the Foodbank’s busiest year since it opened in 2012.
In December alone, the Foodbank handed out over 1,300 food parcels – more than in the whole of the previous year.
Adi Robinson, Service Delivery Manager at Rugby Foodbank, said it had been a difficult year.
He said: “We see peaks and troughs of demand, but this year we’ve reached a new level that we never wanted to reach.
“The level of benefits, especially for people who are sick and disabled, needs to be high enough for people to live, but at the moment they’re not high enough for people to even exist – and there is an enormous difference between existing and living.
“However, we are continuing to develop our Financial Inclusion partnership with our local Citizens Advice, referring our clients to a dedicated advisor to delve into the underlying causes of crisis including debt and income maximisation. We know this is having a really positive impact helping to put money back into people’s pockets.”
A Foodbank client who claims Universal Credit said: “I already have days where there is no gas or electricity in the property, and we already skip meals and go without basic items. I am worried that this is going to happen more often and, on a lot more days of the month.”
Diana Mansell, Chair of the Hope4 charity which runs the Foodbank and the Hope Centre, said Rugby Foodbank was set up to provide short-term support to people in an emergency.
“It is not a lasting solution to hunger and poverty,” she added.
“To say it’s been a really hard 12 months doesn’t seem to quite do it justice. It has always been an emotional place to work.
“There are highs and lows. You see two sides – our amazing volunteers and such a great wealth of community support. It really buoys you up to see how the community comes together to support one another.
“But when people come to us, they are often coming at the lowest points of their lives.
“I want to thank everyone involved for their amazing ongoing support and assure you all we will be here until foodbanks are no longer needed – but the current situation is not one we can solve alone.”
She echoed the call from the Trussell Trust, the national charity which runs foodbanks across the UK, for a stronger social security system which can cover life’s essentials like food, heating, and clothes.
The Trust’s annual figures show almost three million food parcels were given out across the UK in the last year, with over million going to children – more than ever before.
Emma Revie, Chief Executive at the Trussell Trust, said: “These new statistics are extremely concerning. An increasing number of people are being left with no option but to turn to charitable, volunteer-run organisations to get by – and this is not right.
“The continued increase in parcel numbers over the last five years indicates that it is ongoing low levels of income and a social security system that isn’t fit for purpose that are forcing more people to need foodbanks, rather than just the cost-of-living crisis or the pandemic. “
Visit www.rugby.foodbank.org.uk for more on Rugby Foodbank.