HUNGER in Rugby is on the rise as demand at the town’s Foodbank rose above pre-pandemic levels over the past 12 months – and staff say the worst is yet to come.
Rugby Foodbank provided over 5,500 food parcels to local people who couldn’t afford the essentials in the year ending March 2022 – a near five per cent rise on the 12 months leading up to the pandemic.
Staff say the increase is due to the spiralling cost of living, the impact of £20 a week being cut from Universal Credit payments during the last year, social security payments not covering the cost of essentials, and insecure or low-paid work.
Rugby Foodbank’s Service Delivery Manager Adi Robinson said his staff and volunteers should not be required to distribute emergency food parcels on such a scale.
He said: “The support we see across the community for people on the lowest incomes is incredible – but it shouldn’t be needed.
“We should all be free from hunger. No one should be pushed deeper into poverty without enough money for the things we all need. It’s not right that anyone in Rugby needs our food bank in the first place – everyone should be able to afford the essentials.
“At the moment the situation is only set to get worse, as this is just the start of the cost-of-living crisis. But we know what’s pushing people to need food banks like ours, so we know what needs to be done.
“People cannot afford to wait any longer for support – UK, national and local governments at all levels must use their powers and take urgent action now to strengthen our social security system so it keeps up with the true cost of living.
“There will always be a role for strong community groups looking out for their neighbours, and we’re so grateful for the generous support of our volunteers and to local people who have donated to the foodbank. Together, you’ve made sure that local people who can’t afford the essentials don’t face hunger.”
The foodbank is part of the Trussell Trust network, which has experienced its busiest winter outside the height of the pandemic in 2020 – with demand over the last 12 months up by 14 per cent on the year leading up to the pandemic.
The charity also reported a sharp rise in use over the past six months as the cost of living began to soar, with demand in January to February this year up by 22 per cent on the same period in 2020.
Diana Mansell, Chair of the Hope4 charity which operates Rugby Foodbank, said: “Rugby’s increase is not as high as the regional and national picture, and we feel this is in part due to the pilot project we have run in conjunction with our local Citizens Advice service whereby our clients can quickly speak with a designated advisor funded by the foodbank.
“Access to specialist advice about a range of issues including Universal Credit claims, council tax and debt has helped our clients to solve some of the underlying issues leading them to need the foodbank.”