North Bristol Foodbank has reported another big increase in demand for its service, with 4,536 three-day emergency food parcels handed out to local people between April 2018 and March 2019.
The local figures feed into a larger national picture, with a record increase in food bank use across the UK being reported by the Trussell Trust, a national charity which coordinates the UK’s only nationwide network of food banks.
The figures from North Bristol Foodbank represent a 9 percent increase on the same period last year. The organisation has also highlighted a 30 percent increase in usage between January and April 2019 compared to the same period a year earlier.
The charity believes the local increase is mainly due to people struggling with continued issues with Universal Credit, although it points out that it is not the only benefit payment people referred to the food bank have experienced problems with.
The food bank has needed to give emergency food and support to people who are waiting at least five weeks for a first Universal Credit payment, people who are unable to access support and people who receive payments that don’t cover the cost of essentials.
Matt Dobson, food bank manager of North Bristol Foodbank, said:
“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 at northbristol.foodbank.org.uk/give-help
For local residents wishing to donate items of food, there is a public collection point located alongside the customer service desk within the Sainsbury’s store in Stoke Gifford. Please consult the North Bristol Foodbank website to see a list of items that are urgently needed.
The closest food bank outlet for those needing support is at St Chad’s Church, Rodway Road, Patchway (open 10am to 12pm each Thursday).
North Bristol Foodbank works in cooperation with a number of local agencies using a voucher referral system. These include Citizens Advice, children’s centres and health visitors. To find out more about the agencies that hold vouchers and how you can get help, phone the food bank on 0117 979 1399.
This article originally appeared in the May 2019 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine (on page 15). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH (except August), to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.
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