A new report commissioned by the Trussell Trust, an organisation that supports a network of food banks across the UK, and conducted by Heriot-Watt University, reveals the key elements as to why people are experiencing hunger and poverty.
The three-year research project saw more than 1,000 people who have used food banks surveyed as well as 36 referral agencies in 13 localities and 28 food bank managers. The 112 page report reveals:
- 94% of people at food banks are destitute.
- Almost three-quarters of people at food banks have health issues or live with somebody who does.
- More than half of people at food banks live in households affected by mental health problems.
The report goes on to state that in the last five years the number of emergency food parcels provided by food banks in the Trussell Trust network has increased by a staggering 73%. It also identifies that the average weekly income after housing costs for people referred to food banks is just £50.
The report identifies the drivers to food banks as:
- The benefits system. Two-thirds of the people surveyed had problems with the benefits system in the last 12 months.
- Repaying debts. 40% of people referred to food banks were having money taken off their benefits to repay debts with the vast majority repaying the Department of Work and Pensions.
- Ill health and challenging life experiences like eviction, divorce and losing a job.
- Most people either didn’t have or had exhausted formal and informal support.
The Trussell Trust is calling for three key changes as a priority to protect people from hunger:
- End the five-week wait for Universal Credit.
- Benefit payments must cover the true cost of living.
- Funding for councils to provide local crisis support should be ring-fenced and increased.
To read the key findings and the full report click here.
What can you do to help?
- Spread the word. Using the hashtag #ThisCanChange to help spread the findings of this report on social media.
- Write to your politician.
- Join the campaign #5WeeksTooLong to help bring an end to the five-week wait for Universal Credit.
- Support your local food bank. You can make a donation to Stockport Foodbank here. We also welcome food donations and other help – visit our website for further details.