Rising poverty causes Christmas spike in foodbank demand in Banbury

With Christmas days away, the Trussell Trust says last December’s statistics alongside the increase in food bank use so far this year, suggest more people than ever will need a food bank’s help.

Wednesday, 18th December 2019, 11:52 am
Updated Wednesday, 18th December 2019, 11:52 am

The Trussell Trust, the Salvation Army and the BYHP - the town’s young homelessness project - are all appealing for non-perishable food to help ensure families and individuals do not go hungry over the festive season - but they are also asking for some seasonal treats.

Companies in Banbury and schools in the area have been supporting the work of BYHP, providing foodstuffs, toiletries and - at this time of year - simple gifts such as sweets, snacks, hats, gloves and socks.

The Salvation Army is handing out food parcels to those in need. But on December 25 a swathe of volunteers join the Officer and his staff at the George Street centre to provide a full Christmas lunch for a large group of the homeless and people living in limited space.

Staff Connor Southwood and Deb Parker at the BYHP foodbank NNL-191012-175954009
Staff Connor Southwood and Deb Parker at the BYHP foodbank NNL-191012-175954009

All three organisations have reported increasing uptake of donated food to allow recipients to survive.

Banbury Folk Club has been gathering a large donation of provisions for the Banbury Food Bank which run by the People’s Church on behalf of the Trussell Trust.

Club chairman Kevin West said: “It is unbelievable that there are people in our community who require the help of a food bank at any time, let alone at Christmas.

“Our club members and visitors are very lucky to be able to feed ourselves and keep our homes warm.

Emma Revie - CEO of the Trussell Trust NNL-191217-142435001

“We were discussing plans for our Christmas party night when the idea of helping others less fortunate than ourselves came to mind.

“We were then very surprised to find out the food bank was almost next door. We were surprised again by the list of items the food bank required.

“Alongside the expected tinned meat, fish and fruit, pasta and lng-life milk were things we had not thought of, such as toilet rolls, toiletries and ladies’ sanitary products.

“So far we have four large bags ready to pass on to the food bank, with more to come in the next couple of weeks up to our Christmas party on December 18. “

Mr West urged other residents of the area to make their own contributions to the town’s foodbanks, not just now, at Christmas, but throughout the year.

“Donations are required all year round and can be left in the collecting bin at Tesco’s, Lockhead Close,” he said.

Linda Slide of BYHP said: “We run a foodbank for 13 - 25-year-olds with various needs, all year round. 

“We try to support a healthy diet for the young people and we have two drop-offs a week from the Banbury organisation Food for Charities which collects surplus food, including fresh fruit and veg, from supermarkets and distributes it.

“We don’t run a ticket scheme and we don’t limit the donations we give out while our users find their feet,” she said.

“Some of the firms and schools who support us have been giving Christmassy things recently, like selection boxes and chocolates.

“The Banbury company Tibbetts are doing special boxes for us to give out as an extra over Christmas.”

Salvation Army officer Malcolm Anderson said the organisation provides food parcels to needy people on an ongoing basis.

He said the Salvation Army would welcome donations of tinned meat or meals, tinned vegetables, long-life milk, tea bags, coffee, sugar and tubs of spread for the bread they source elsewhere.

Gift items would also be gratefully accepted, he said, so the Army can give out small Christmas gifts.

Items can be dropped in between 10.30 - noon, Tuesday - Friday.

More details of the Banbury Food Bank can be found at banbury.foodbank.org.uk.

BYHP can be found at 2, Chandos Close, Banbury. Its opening hours are Mon to Thu - 9am - 5pm and on  ​Friday from 9.30am - 4:30pm.

The Trussell Trust’s CEO Emma Revie said: “Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy and celebration – but for too many it’s becoming harder and harder to keep their heads above water. Nine in 10 of us believe hunger in the UK is a problem – food banks cannot and should not have to continue to pick up the pieces.

“We know many people want to help their local communities at this time of year.

“There are two simple things they can do to make a real difference. First, find out what items your local food bank is most in need of and donate as soon as possible.

“Then help us end the need for food banks for good, by asking politicians to pledge to protect people from hunger by making sure everyone has enough money for the basics.

“Our government must start working towards a future where no one needs a food bank. It’s not inevitable that every Christmas we hear stories about families needing food banks. It’s in our power to reach a future where everyone has enough money for the basics. This can change.”

Trussell Trust’s chief executive Emma Revie said: “Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy and celebration – but for too many people it’s becoming harder and harder to keep their heads above water. Nine in 10 of us believe hunger in the UK is a problem – food banks cannot and should not have to continue to pick up the pieces.

“We know many people want to help their local communities at this time of year. There are two simple things you can do to make a real difference. First, find out what items your local food bank is most in need of and donate as soon as possible. Then help us end the need for food banks for good, by asking all your local candidates up for election to pledge to protect people from hunger by making sure everyone has enough money for the basics.

“It’s not right that anyone should have to use a food bank at any time of year – not just at Christmas. Our next government must start working towards a future where no one needs a food bank. It’s not inevitable that every Christmas we hear stories about families needing food banks. It’s in our power to reach a future where everyone has enough money for the basics. This can change.”

The organisation says December 2018 was the busiest month for Trussell Trust food banks when 186,185 three-day emergency food parcels were provided by food banks in the network to people in crisis. Of these, 78,536 of these went to children.

The figure is 44 per cent higher than the monthly average for the 2018-19 financial year. The charity’s figures for April – Sept 2019, show a 23 per cent increase over the same period in 2018.

The figures follow the publication of State of Hunger, the most in-depth study to date into hunger and the drivers of food bank use in the UK.

The research revealed the average weekly income of households at food banks is only £50 after paying rent; one in five have no money coming in at all in the month before being referred for emergency food; 94 per cent of people at food banks are destitute.

State of Hunger shows there are three drivers hitting people simultaneously and leaving no protection from hunger and poverty. These drivers are problems with the benefits system, ill health or challenging life experiences and a lack of local support.

These statistics do not include foodbanks run separately by other charities.

Following the results last week’s election, Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust said: “The Conservative party manifesto for this election promised ‘we will do more to make universal credit work’. Just last week on the campaign trail, Boris Johnson said helping people with the cost of living is ‘an absolute crusade’ for him personally.

“It is crucial these words are acted on. We know what hasn’t been working as it should and we know what needs to change. We must start putting money back into the pockets of people who most need support, by ending the five week wait for Universal Credit, ensuring benefit payments cover the cost of living and investing in local emergency support for people in crisis.

“It’s in our power as a country to end the need for food banks. But if we’re to get there, we need our new government to act. We’d encourage any new MPs to speak to their local food bank about why people are being referred for emergency food. It’s not right that anyone should have to turn to charity for the basics – this can change.”

FOODBANK USE RISING THIS CHRISTMAS

With Christmas days away, the Trussell Trust says last December’s statistics alongside the increase in food bank use so far this year, suggest more people than ever will need a food bank’s help.

The organisation says December 2018 was the busiest month for Trussell Trust food banks when 186,185 three-day emergency food parcels were provided by food banks in the network to people in crisis. Of these, 78,536 of these went to children.

The figure is 44 per cent higher than the monthly average for the 2018-19 financial year. The charity’s figures for April – Sept 2019, show a 23 per cent increase over the same period in 2018.

The figures follow the publication of State of Hunger, the most in-depth study to date into hunger and the drivers of food bank use in the UK.

The research revealed the average weekly income of households at food banks is only £50 after paying rent; one in five have no money coming in at all in the month before being referred for emergency food; 94 per cent of people at food banks are destitute.

State of Hunger shows there are three drivers hitting people simultaneously and leaving no protection from hunger and poverty. These drivers are problems with the benefits system, ill health or challenging life experiences and a lack of local support.

These statistics do not include foodbanks run separately by other charities.

Following the results last week’s election, Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust said: “The Conservative party manifesto for this election promised ‘we will do more to make universal credit work’. Just last week on the campaign trail, Boris Johnson said helping people with the cost of living is ‘an absolute crusade’ for him personally.

“It is crucial these words are acted on. We know what hasn’t been working as it should and we know what needs to change. We must start putting money back into the pockets of people who most need support, by ending the five week wait for Universal Credit, ensuring benefit payments cover the cost of living and investing in local emergency support for people in crisis.

“It’s in our power as a country to end the need for food banks. But if we’re to get there, we need our new government to act. We’d encourage any new MPs to speak to their local food bank about why people are being referred for emergency food. It’s not right that anyone should have to turn to charity for the basics – this can change.”