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FOOD / Energy / Clothing BANKS : MORE A HUMANITARIAN THREAD ? 100,000+ Carers Reported As Needing Them In 2018 - Page 35 - Carers UK Forum

FOOD / Energy / Clothing BANKS : MORE A HUMANITARIAN THREAD ? 100,000+ Carers Reported As Needing Them In 2018

Discuss news stories and political issues that affect carers.
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Ground zero .... Wyre Forest / Kidderminster ... again , not an area usually associated with poverty.

The number of emergency food parcels handed out by Kidderminster Foodbank is up by nearly 25 per cent on last year.


The Bull Ring food bank has revealed 2,348 food parcels were given to people in Wyre Forest between April 1 and September 30 this year - 962 of which went to children - representing a 24.8 per cent increase on the same period last year.

Kidderminster Foodbank, which is part of the Trussell Trust's network, says the need for emergency food parcels in the UK is now at an all-time high.

The new figures come just a week after the Trussell Trust released State of Hunger, its most in-depth study published into hunger and the drivers of food bank use in the UK.

Findings revealed the average weekly income of people at food banks is only £50 after paying housing costs, and almost one in five have no money coming in at all in the month before being referred for emergency food.

Maureen Lewis, manager of Kidderminster Foodbank, said: "It’s a real concern that in just six months we’ve provided 2,348 emergency supplies to local people.

"These figures don’t take into account our busiest time of year - as the colder weather draws in, we often find even more people needing our help.

“We believe that everyone should have enough money coming in to cover the basics. But right now, more and more people in Wyre Forest are being forced to our food bank’s doors. This isn’t right.

“While our help is needed, 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 because of the incredible generosity shown by local people who have donated food, time and funds. Thank you."
Food poverty at record levels – a children's book on food banks shows how normal it has become.

“Wake up, mum. I’m hungry!” This is the opening line to the recently published children’s book, It’s a No-Money Day, by Kate Milner, a powerful exploration of food banks and life below the poverty line.

The UK should not be in a position that such a book needs to be written. But as recent statistics from the Trussell Trust, a charity working to stop UK hunger and poverty, have shown, food poverty is not going away. It’s increasingly generating child victims, whose only salvation comes from donations of emergency food provisions.

Food poverty, once just a focus of academic concern, is now knocking on the door of children’s literature. Yet the story told across this 25-page book is becoming an increasingly normal situation in the UK for many families. Indeed, Milner’s book significantly highlights the level of normalisation that has been reached with food poverty in the UK.

" Mum goes hungry "

Milner’s book is not only an excellent resource to talk to children about poverty, but it’s also a good way to show how such experiences don’t happen in isolation. Recent data has shown that around 30% of children are living in poverty. But what this book also highlights is that treating the use of food banks as normal can be a double-edged sword.


On one side, normalisation allows people to feel accepted, that others are in similar positions. But it also shows the depths the UK has plummeted to and how the social security welfare safety-net has been unravelled by the impact of austerity. A situation that has created victims out of a punitive ideology in the name of “welfare reform”, where the bedroom-tax, sanctions and universal credit are increasingly used as tools for “conditionality”. This is when welfare “rights” become conditional on welfare “responsibilities”, in that people are obligated to behave in a certain way to receive certain benefits.

In 1902, Benjamin Seebohm Rowntree wrote of the poverty experienced by families in York. Rowntree stated that:“The food of these poor people is totally inadequate,” adding that “as a rule … it is the wife and sometimes the children who have to forego a portion of their food –- the importance of maintaining the strength of the wage-earner is recognised, and he obtains his ordinary share”.

Milner’s book highlights how, today, there is a reversal of these findings. The child character explains how: “There’s no more cereal, so I have a piece of toast. Luckily, mum isn’t hungry”. Many parents, especially single parents, take the hit on missing a meal when there isn’t enough food – meaning that food poverty becomes hidden within the family.

This same sentiment was expressed in my research. One woman I spoke to, Donna, told me how commonplace it is :

There are mothers, every single day in every town who are skipping meals to feed their children. When you do not have supplies in your cupboard, and you’ve got no means of buying it, you go without to feed your family … [but] you won’t know that your neighbours’ [also] gone without lunch today, because if she eats, there’s nothing to give her kids for tea. So, [we] hide it.

Shame and embarrassment

In my research with food bank users, the experience of food poverty was seen as a form of embarrassment. Many of the people I spoke with in food banks indicated they tried to hide their poverty from younger family members – as this conversation between myself and one food bank interviewee highlights:

Tony: “I try to keep that away from [my son]. I want him just to focus on his school, I don’t want him to worry about, ‘am I going to eat today, am I not going to eat today?’”.

Me: “So, he won’t know where this food has come from today?”

Tony: “No. I mean, he’s only thirteen, I don’t want him to start worrying about where he’s going to get his next meal from, you know. To be fair, he shouldn’t have to worry about that at that age.”

It’s clear that many parents work remarkably hard to protect their children from the worst effects of poverty. Yet, disturbingly, the “survivors” of poverty, caringly addressed in Milner’s book, are those who are fed by the inadequate system of emergency food aid provision such as food banks.

I say food banks are inadequate not to take away from the tremendous work they do – they are now a place of “survival” for many – but simply because they shouldn’t be needed in the first place. And that food banks are now entering the realms of children’s literature feels like a further step too far.
The 10 items food bank charities are asking shoppers to donate this week at Tesco.

From today until Saturday November 23, shoppers will find a Food Collection donation point at the front of every Tesco store.

Food banks bracing for record high demand over Christmas period.

Campaigners call on next government to '" Work towards a future where no one needs a food bank. "

Food bank providers are bracing for record high demand this Christmas as election candidates from all parties face demands to make ending hunger across the UK a priority.

The Trussell Trust warned that newly published figures from December 2018, coupled with the increase in food parcels needed so far this year, suggest more people than ever will need a food bank’s help.

Figures published earlier this month showed that the period between April and September 2019 marked the busiest half-year for the charity’s network since it opened, with the number of parcels given out hitting 820,000 – a 23 per cent increase on the same period in 2018.

It meanwhile provided 186,185 three-day emergency food parcels to people last December, marking a 44 per cent rise on the monthly average for the 2018-19 financial year.

Separate research from the Truseell Trust revealed food bank users have on average just £7.10 a day to live on, which is “drastically lower” than the official relative poverty threshold.

The findings also suggested that people were being forced to appeal for food parcels for three main reasons: problems with the benefits system – notably universal credit – ill health and challenging life experiences, and a lack of local support.

The Trussell Trust’s chief executive Emma Revie warned that food banks “could not and should not have to continue to pick up the pieces” of food poverty across the UK.

“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,” she added.

“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.”

She urged members of the public who wished to help their local communities to both find out what items your local food bank is most in need of and donate as soon as possible, and ask their local election candidates to pledge to protect people from hunger.

A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said: “We spend over £95bn a year on working age benefits and universal credit supports more than 2.5 million people across the UK.

“With universal credit people can get paid urgently if they need it and 95 per cent of payments are made in full and on time.”
An update on the FUEL BANK element within some food banks :

Fuel Bank

Fuel Bank™ is a project to help people who are most in need by giving them funds to pay for gas and electricity, alongside emergency food.

Many people who are in need of emergency food are often also in fuel crisis and have to make the choice between ‘heating or eating’, which can lead to a series of health issues if they have to ‘self-disconnect’ (where they can’t afford to top up their pre-payment meter).

We believe that people shouldn’t have to make this choice. Foodbanks provide a unique opportunity to reach people in fuel crisis, in some cases before they reach that point and offer them a helping hand. Fuel vouchers give up to two weeks of breathing space to seek longer-term help with their fuel bills.

The project started in April 2015 in partnership with npower, National Energy Action and Durham Christian Partnership. It was piloted in four foodbanks and was a big success, giving out 7000 vouchers and helping over 16,000 people in one year. Since the pilot, Fuel Bank has expanded and is now running in 31 foodbanks across the UK and has helped over 100,000 people.

How does it work ?

Step 1 – Individuals who are identified as being in need of emergency food by care professionals are issued with a foodbank voucher to redeem at their local foodbank.

Step 2 – When the individual goes to the foodbank with their voucher, the volunteers will chat to them about their energy needs. If the client has a pre-payment meter and is struggling to keep it topped up, the foodbank may offer to apply for a voucher on their behalf.

Step 3 – If the application is successful, a Fuel Bank voucher will be sent to the client via text message or another method if they do not have a mobile phone.

Step 4 – The client then takes their voucher to any shop with a PayPoint machine where it can be redeemed against electricity and/or gas using their pre-payment key or card.

Step 5 – Once the code has been redeemed, when the individual puts the relevant pre-payment key or card in their meter or meters, the money will appear as a credit.

Please note, Fuel Bank is only available at a limited number of foodbanks and is only for foodbank clients. Clients cannot be referred into the scheme.

https://www.trusselltrust.org/what-we-d ... fuel-bank/
Ground zero ... Midlothian area , Scotland ... and a familiar tale :

Midlothian foodbank usage doubled last Christmas.


Usage of foodbanks more than doubled in Midlothian last Christmas, figures from the UK’s biggest food bank network show.

The Trussell Trust is bracing for its busiest ever Christmas, with figures suggesting a record numbers of people in need will seek support this December.

In Midlothian, the charity handed out 951 three-day emergency food parcels last December, equivalent to 215 every week – including 490 (52 per cent) to children.

It meant the charity dished out 630 more parcels in the area than it did on average each month during 2018-19 – an increase of 196 per cent. Meanwhile, separate figures published by the charity show 16 per cent more food parcels were provided between April and September than the same six months just a year before – meaning demand is likely to be even higher this winter.

Trussell Trust chief executive Emma Revie warned that communities across the country are being pushed into poverty. She 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 – foodbanks cannot and should not have to continue to pick up the pieces.”

The number of food parcels handed out across the charity’s UK sites last December was 44 per cent higher than the monthly average for the year. Since the figures do not include hundreds of other independent food banks around the country, many more parcels are likely to have been distributed over the period.

Ms Revie said she wanted candidates in the upcoming General Election to pledge to protect people from hunger.

“Our next government must start working towards a future where no one needs a food bank,” she said.

“It’s in our power to reach a future where everyone has enough money for the basics. This can change.”

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “We spend over £95 billion a year on working-age benefits, and Universal Credit supports more than 2.5 million people across the UK.

“With Universal Credit people can get paid urgently if they need it and 95 per cent of payments are made in full and on time.”

A year in the life of a food bank : " People who come here have been abandoned. "

Natalie Bloomer visited the Weston Favell scheme in Northampton every month for a year. Here is her diary.

December 2018

My first session comes at a busy time of the year as staff gear up for Christmas. Each person who comes through the door is offered a hot drink and some toast while they tell volunteers their reasons for being there. A teacher has turned up to ask for a package for a young boy’s family. He arrived at school three days in a row without having had breakfast. When she called the child’s parents, she says his mother broke down in tears saying, “I can’t afford to feed my children.” A woman comes in and says she has recently been moved on to universal credit. She received her last payment from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in mid-November and has been told not to expect anything else until 12 January. She doesn’t know how she will get through the festive period.

The closer we get to Christmas, the busier it gets. The food bank is only open on a Wednesday morning and at least 10 volunteers turn up every week to help the three part-time staff. During one session a small boy of about five approaches me and asks quietly if there is any turkey so that he can have a Christmas dinner. Amid all the desperation, there are moments of light. The food bank will be closed from Christmas Eve until the new year but on one of the last days of opening , a man and his son turn up with bags full of food and toiletries. Their family decided to donate to the food bank rather than buying presents for each other. Most donations come from individuals so there are times when supplies run low, especially of particular items such as toilet rolls, nappies and longlife milk.

Number of parcels issued: 190

January 2019

Staff thought that things would quieten down after Christmas but the impact of universal credit is starting to be felt and it has become normal for a long queue of people to be waiting outside before the doors open at 10am. In just one morning I speak to four people who have been movedfrom employment support allowance to universal credit. They’ve all been forced to rely on food handouts during the wait for their first payment. One woman says that she needs to attend a hospital appointment but can’t afford the bus fare so will not be going. A man in insecure work has rent arrears that he previously paid £5 a week towards clearing. After being moved to universal credit, he now has to pay £127 a month. He has a serious lung condition and high blood pressure but says he regularly goes without gas and electricity for much of the month. “I top it up once, then when it runs out I just sit in my coat.”

Number of parcels issued: 171

February 2019

A woman and her four-year-old child arrive at the Emmanuel church, where the food bank is held. They arrived the day before and were given a hot meal at the community cafe that is run from the same building and told to return for an emergency food package. After a run of bad luck, they have ended up sleeping in a car. She says it was so cold one night that there was ice on the inside of the window when they woke up. Volunteers signpost them to various support services and tell them to keep returning until the situation is resolved. People have started to hear about universal credit advance payments but many are too scared to take one. There is a lot of confusion over how much needs to be paid back and when.

Number of parcels issued: 174

March 2019

Things continue to be busy. Volunteers say that last year it was normal to see around 20 people each week, now sometimes more than 40 parcels are handed out during a single session. A man has travelled six miles by bike. He’ll have to make the same journey back with six heavy bags full of tins, jars and other food. He doesn’t complain, he says he is just grateful for the help.

A pregnant woman has been forced to use the food bank for the first time after being moved on to universal credit. She says she “hasn’t done much eating lately” and has been in hospital with malnutrition following a stomach bug. Her rent is high and there is a list of problems with her home that she is trying to get sorted. She is worried about her children and the new baby and says that feeding them comes before feeding herself.

Another family made their universal credit claim on 14 February and have been told they will not get the first payment until the beginning of April.

Number of parcels issued: 177

April 2019

Many of the people who use the food bank are middle-aged or younger, but one day three pensioners come in during a single session. One of them, a 69-year-old man, is almost in tears as he says he is using his life savings to pay his rent because of a housing benefit mistake. Despite being of pension age he still works but has recently lost his job and this is the first time he’s used a food bank. As we talk, I can hear his voice breaking. He apologises and quickly leaves with his bags.

A man comes in almost completely doubled over and walking with a stick. Despite a string of health conditions, he has been told he is fit for work. He has to get two buses home and staff are concerned about how he will manage with all his bags of food. He’s helped down to the bus stop but from there he is alone. The volunteers work incredibly hard. It can be both physically and emotionally tiring. When they are not moving heavy boxes and bags, they are listening to people in crisis. It’s clear that for some people having somebody to talk to is almost as important as the food they are collecting.

Number of parcels issued: 173

May 2019

A woman who works 30 hours a week was moved on to universal credit from tax credits in March. She still hasn’t had her first payment but has received an advance. She decided to use this to cover some of her rent because she was under pressure from her landlord – now there is nothing left. She’s come to the food bank with her manager from work because she needs some support.

She says she’s never been in such a bad position, even when she was unemployed. “The bills are adding up and I’ve been charged by the bank for unpaid direct debits. I broke down yesterday because I’m just so embarrassed by it all.”

Number of parcels issued: 170

June 2019

A young mother comes in who waited the standard five weeks for her first universal credit payment but, when she received it, it was £120 less than she’d been told. She’s been without electricity for a week and is having to walk to a friend’s house to do her cooking every day.

So many people here have spent years living on the edge of poverty, just managing to survive. Often it’s only a minor change to their circumstances that pushes them over the edge. They then face a huge battle to get back to where they were before.

Number of parcels issued: 118

July 2019

Many of the parents are starting to worry about the summer holidays. Before they even think about the cost of entertaining their children for six long weeks, there is the matter of feeding them. Most rely on free school lunches for the one hot meal their children will receive each day.

The woman who came in earlier in the year because she was sleeping in a car with her daughter is now working part time and renting a small house. She has just received her first universal credit payment and used some of it to buy a trolley-load of donations for the food bank.

Number of parcels issued: 184

August 2019

It’s the summer holidays and as well as helping out at the food bank, some staff are running local lunch clubs. They provide a meal for the whole family and lots of activities for the children. The groups are run separately from the food bank and because they do not open every day the families in urgent need still come here.

Some people are worried about the cost of school uniforms and shoes, especially those who have children moving up to secondary school. One woman is upset because she’d managed to buy everything her daughter needed but her PE bag has just broken and she doesn’t have the money to replace it. After speaking to her, a volunteer quickly pops out and buys one to give to her.

Number of parcels issued: 137

September 2019

There is nowhere near enough recognition for the amazing work the staff and volunteers of food banks do. I’ve been coming here for more than nine months now and I’ve seen the dedication and care that goes into offering the type of support the staff provide. They have stepped in where the state has failed. The number of people coming in has fluctuated over the last few months. Nobody can say for definite why – but it’s still not unusual for people to be queueing to get in. One morning I arrive half an hour before opening and there are already two women with small babies and another in a wheelchair waiting outside.

Number of parcels issued: 140

October 2019

A lot of people who come in have debt problems. One man, who was previously street homeless, is terrified about losing his home because of unpaid bills. He would usually be referred to the national debt charity, CAP, but food bank staff have been told they are not taking any new clients until February next year because they are so busy. A local debt service is also unable to take on anyone new at the moment.

Another asks if they can call him later in the week to talk through his options but as he doesn’t have a phone that’s not possible. After a volunteer spends an hour calling around different places, a home visit is finally arranged for him.

Being able to signpost people to other services is vital but in Northamptonshire, like other areas, many organisations are facing cuts to funding. To help meet the need, monthly advice clinics are held at the food bank by a community law group, the local Labour party candidate, Sally Keeble, and a mental health charity. There is always a queue of people waiting for their help.

Number of parcels issued: 165

November 2019

A recent Trussell Trust report shows that two-thirds of people who have used a food bank have had problems with the benefit system in the last year. This comes as no surprise to people here. It’s been clear to me in the time that I have been coming that, alongside low pay, benefit issues are the leading cause for people needing food handouts.

A woman with MS, osteoarthritis and mental health problems comes in happily waving a letter in her hand. She saw her money drop significantly when she was moved from disability living allowance to personal independence payments and waited more than 30 weeks for her appeal against this to be heard at a tribunal. During that time she has regularly received emergency food and sanitary products. She’s just found out that her case was successful and wants to show staff the decision from the court.

A social worker comes in to collect a parcel for a man with mental health problems. She says that he hasn’t eaten properly for four days and has been scavenging through bins to feed himself.

Number of parcels issued: 131

December 2019

Tesco has held a food bank collection in its local store. It’s a huge help at this time of year when supplies can run low but it also means a lot of extra work for the volunteers. They worked out a rota so that there were always representatives at the supermarket to thank people for their donations. Others helped to transport and sort through the boxes of goods received.

Piles of advent calendars are ready to be handed out and boxes of mince pies and chocolates are stacked high. Staff and volunteers have collected small gifts to give out and people can help themselves to wrapping paper, sellotape and cards.

The general election is just over a week away and despite Labour’s pledges to tackle food poverty there has been very little national debate on the issue. Northampton is not a particularly deprived town yet almost 14,000 children are living in poverty here.

There was much talk after the EU referendum about the people “left behind” but the people I’ve met at the food bank over the last year haven’t simply been left behind, they’ve been abandoned.
There are more food banks than McDonald's in the UK, new figures show.

The shocking figures reveal there are 800 more food banks than branches of the fast food chain.

There are now more food banks in the UK than there are branches of fast food chains like McDonald's, according to figures that first emerged on Twitter with six days to go before the election.

Official figures suggest there are now more than 2,000 food banks across the UK, the majority of which are run by the charity The Trussell Trust.

In the UK, there are 1,249 McDonald's branches, with reportedly 500 Burger King branches and 2,000 branches of both Subway and Costa.

People reacted on Twitter when faced with the bald statistics.

One wrote: "2019 under the Tories.... McDonalds 1249 Subway 2000 Burger King 500 Starbucks 995 Costa 2000 Food banks 2030 In 2013 the Tories rejected £22,000,000 of funding from the EU to help fund food banks #ImSackingBoris #GetBorisGone #NeverTrustATory"

Another said simply: "More food banks than McDonalds."

Another poster wrote: " Life expectancy falling Boarded up high streets Homelessness 120,000 killed by austerity More food banks than McDonalds Patients on trolleys in corridors Selling off the NHS In work poverty Children starving".

A third Twitter user said: "The poorest and most distressed amongst us can’t even afford junk food and have to rely on food banks as the norm. Food banks are not normal !!"

The Trussell Trust, the charity which runs the majority of the UK's food banks, said it now has a network of 1,200 food banks across the UK.

Research from the Independent Food Aid Network suggested the Trussell Trust's centres account for roughly two-thirds of all emergency food banks, so they estimate there are "around 2,000 food banks in the UK."

Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, said: "We’re seeing more and more people being pushed to food banks than ever before. People across the country, driven by compassion and a strong sense of justice, have been doing what they can to help, but we all want to see things change.

"It’s time for candidates on all sides to ensure these values are lived out in policies that anchor people from poverty.

"This General Election, all political parties must pledge to protect people from hunger by ensuring everyone has enough money for the basics.

"We want our next government to start working towards a future where no one needs a food bank 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.

"Together, these three changes will put money back into the pockets of people who most need our support.

"It's not right that anyone has to walk through the doors of a food bank in the UK. But it’s in our power as a country to end the need for food banks - this can change."

The M.E.N has asked McDonald's for a comment.
An update on the various links between football supporters and food banks :

Football and food banks: How UK soccer fans are helping tackle society's " Gaping wound. "


Dave Kelly can still recall the time he glimpsed the biggest pack of pasta he had ever seen.

Standing inside a community center in the UK city of Liverpool, Kelly just stood and stared at the packet.

Curious about the line of people coming out of the center close to Anfield, home of Liverpool soccer club, Kelly pulled over and asked what was going on.

He was told it was a line to use the food bank. Inside, he began to talk to those who had set up the stock room.


"I'd never seen anything like it -- it was the biggest bag of pasta I had seen in my life," Kelly told CNN.

"To say the shelves were bare was an understatement. The only things left were the pasta and six tins of tuna the food bank was going to have to divide equally so everyone got something.

"I knew then we had to do something."

Kelly left a changed man and embarked on what he describes as "drastic action needing to be taken."

" Humanitarian crisis "

On Thursday, as millions go to the polls for the country's general elections, the issue of food poverty is likely to be a key issue for a number of voters.

In May, a damning report published by Humans Rights Watch (HRW) said the British government was violating its obligations to ensure families have enough food to live on.

HRW cited the program of austerity which has seen cuts to the country's welfare system since the Conservative Party took office in 2010 as one of the leading factors behind food poverty.

In response, a government spokesperson rejected the report's findings as "misleading," in a statement to CNN.

Another report, published in May by the United Nations, painted a picture of a country where "compassion" for the poor had been replaced with a "mean-spirited" approach akin to that portrayed in the 19th century workhouses featured in the novels of Charles Dickens.

In Liverpool, which is ranked as the fourth most deprived local authority by a 2019 government report, Kelly has helped inspire a revolution among the city's soccer supporters to help tackle food poverty at a time where the country is experiencing an upsurge in food bank users.

For the past four years, Kelly, an Everton fan, has helped lead the "Fans Supporting Foodbanks" campaign, a partnership between the Everton Supporters' Trust and Liverpool fans group, Spirit of Shankly.

From standing outside with just a garbage can full of beer cans, chip wrappers and the odd bag of food, the venture has grown exponentially, now boasting two vans and weekly collections outside of Goodison Park and Anfield.

According to Kelly, food collected by Fans Supporting Foodbanks accounts for 30% of the donations made to food banks on Merseyside.

Last year, 25% of the 90 tons of food collected by North Liverpool Foodbank was donated on matchdays by Everton and Liverpool supporters through the Fans Supporting Foodbanks initiative.

"At best, food banks are a sticking plaster for a gaping wound," Kelly said. "We have literally been saying since day one that there's a humanitarian crisis on the streets of every major town and city of the UK.

"That humanitarian crisis has grown quickly over the past four years and become an epidemic.

"Where we've been extremely fortunate is that we belong to the two biggest families on Merseyside -- a family of Evertonians and a family of Liverpudlians.

"That probably encapsulates nearly everyone in the city and because there's a football element to it and someone may say no to most other people, because of the football interest, people tend to say yes."

According to figures provided by Everton, 11,000 people were helped by north Liverpool Foodbank last year, with around 40% of users being children.

The program benefits from close links with the city's two biggest soccer clubs -- European champion Liverpool and its close rival Everton.

The two clubs host collections outside their respective stadiums each week and players and staff are encouraged to get involved on a regular basis.

Around 400-600 people a month are fed from the donations brought on match day, Sarah Atherton of the Everton in the Community program told CNN.

Atherton has spent the past six years working with the local community in a city that has the second highest number of areas in the most deprived 10% nationally.

The "Blue Mile" program, which works with 10,000 residents in the vicinity, offers a number of free projects including employment and education, help for asylum seekers, advice on health care, as well as its work on food poverty.

The club is also set to relaunch it's "People's Picnic" program which will be held throughout the season with those living in sheltered accommodation in the local area invited into the stadium for a hot meal in the club's lounges after the game has finished.

The club also has a partnership with nine local Farmfoods stores which donate to local food banks.

"I think Everton is very, very unique in sense of where it's situated," Atherton told CNN. "It's situated in such a tight neighborhood and one that massively supports the work we do.
"Our fans are massively supportive of food banks and if we can have each of the 39,000 fans bringing one tin of food to our matchday on the 19 days each season then it will make even more of an immense impact than we do now."

Everton is not the only club to run such projects, with several others across the country now taking up the baton in helping their respective local communities at a time where poverty remains a huge issue in the UK.

" Steep rise "

A report published in November by anti-poverty charity the Trussell Trust found that more people than ever before are using food banks in the UK.

The Trussell Trust says that it handed out a record 823,145 food parcels between April and September 2019 with 301,653 of those going to children.

The overall figure was up 23% from the same period last year -- the steepest rise the charity has recorded over the past five years.

There are 1,200 food banks in the Trussell Trust's network which it says makes up around two-thirds of all food banks in the UK.

It says that over the past five years the number of emergency food parcels distributed within its own network has increased by 73%.

The latest figures came shortly after the Trust published "State of Hunger" which it says is the most in-depth study ever published on food bank use in the UK.

In it, the Trust found that the average weekly household income of users at food banks is just £50 ($65). The study also stated that one in five users does not receive any money whatsoever in the month before being referred for emergency food. It also said that 94% of food bank users are destitute, unable to afford essentials to eat, keep warm, dry and clean.

"We're so thankful for the generosity of the people across the UK, the Football Fans Supporting Foodbanks initiative has been amazing," Abby Jitendra, the Trussell Trust's policy & research manager, told CNN.

"Clubs are really anchored in their communities and it's not surprising to see there are so many positive relationships with food banks.

"But of course as we always say, the generosity of people is amazing but we can't forget that the problem shouldn't be there in the first place.

"Nobody in this country should be in a situation where they have to rely on a food bank to feed their family."

Take a glance through social media and you will see football supporter groups from across the UK asking fans to bring donations to stadiums across the country.

One of those groups, the Newcastle United Fans Foodbank, has been supporting the city's West End Foodbank.

"Normally when you go to football you can lose yourself and allow everyday travails to pass into the distance," says Bill Corcoran, who helped set up the collection nearly three years ago.

"But when you're watching the football and then you realize that just over the road there are kids going hungry then it just makes you think that there are more important things.

"For some people it's a case of life and death and football is something that can really help.

"Our fans have been brilliant and we've been told that we provide around 25-30% of all food donations to food banks in Newcastle."

Corcoran is joined by 10-20 volunteers at each home game.

Donations ranging from non-perishable goods, toiletries, sanitary products and cash are brought by fans. There is a currently a demand for egg boxes, with the program having received a large donation of eggs.

Corcoran also praised the Premier League club for its work and backing for the group.

"Football still has the power to inspire a city and a region and we are lucky to live in Newcastle where it has such has a unified support," he added.

"As soon as the club said it would support us the donations doubled. You can feel the love coming out of the stadium for us.

"There's something about the place you come from and the responsibility you have to that place. We will carry on doing it until we no longer have to."

" Make a difference "

It's not just in the north of England that fans are starting up food donation projects.

Inspired by the success engineered between fans of Liverpool and Everton, John Ratomski is planning to open a collection point at London's Olympic Stadium, home of West Ham United.

Ratomski, who hopes to launch "Irons Supporting Foodbanks" on December 28 ahead of the home game with Leicester, recently visited Merseyside where he says he was amazed by the work being done by Kelly and his team in Liverpool.

The project will help collect donations for food banks in the London borough of Newham, which has significant problems with poverty and inequality.

After Scotland and the north west of England, London was ranked third highest in the number of three-day emergency food supplies given out by the Trussell Trust food banks between April and September 2019. A total of 88,379 parcels were distributed in the capital.

"What Fans Supporting Foodbanks wants to do is to remind people that when they go to the match they've got their keys, wallet, coat and something to donate to the food bank," Ratomski added.

"It's a subject that football fans are very passionate about and there is some great work being done.

"At West Ham, with around a million fans visiting the stadium each year, I hope it can really make a difference."

Christmas time

With the festive period approaching, the demands on food banks can often increase rather dramatically, according to the Trussell Trust.

"Every Christmas food banks see a spike in December, quite a marked spike, " Jitendra said.

"Some food banks see demand double for the month of December compared to November and so it's a huge, huge increase.

"People are so generous and we see them giving everything they can to food banks to be able to support people but as I've said, the issue shouldn't be arising."

With so many fixtures taking place in the lead up to Christmas and throughout the festive period, Fans Supporting Foodbanks are hoping to ensure a healthy supply of donations.

Fans have been hugely generous, Kelly says, with both clubs encouraging their support to donate where possible. As the Fans Supporting Foodbanks slogan says, "Hunger doesn't wear club colors."

That couldn't be clearer than at Anfield on Wednesday where fans of Liverpool and Everton donated food before the home side's 5-2 Premier League victory.

"Purely from a football perspective, this time of year in particular, every time Everton or Liverpool play away, the opposition supporters start singing: 'Feed the Scousers, let them know it's Christmas time,'" Kelly said.

"The thing is we don't just feed Scousers at Christmas time, we feed Scousers all year round. We stick together."

Just to add , my own team , Leyton Orient , and their endeavours :

COMMUNITY : Leyton Orient supports local food bank, Eat or Heat.

The Eat or Heat food bank is staffed entirely by volunteers, who between them gave up over 4,000 hours of their own time last year, to help people struggling to eat in our community.

In the past year, Eat or Heat food bank will have served almost 9,000 meals to people in the Waltham Forest community. In 2017/18 they saw a 21% increase in Children who are being forced to rely on food bank supplies in order to have anything to eat. 

As part of the visit the group were given a shopping challenge. The Club donated £100 to each team to buy food supplies. Matt Harrold was teamed up with Danny Macklin; Charlie Lee and Louise Stephens formed the other team. Teams were tasked to get the best value for money – thinking about buying ingredients for a balanced meal, including meat, vegetables and carbohydrates; whilst considering storing the food for potentially a few weeks. Danny and Matt were crowned the winning team as their final bill was closest to the £100 budget.

Matt Harrold, said: “This visit has been a real eye-opener, it’s made me think differently about how me and my family eat, and the wastage that sometimes happens. It’s sad to think so many families need support from food banks like Eat or Heat, especially over Christmas, but we’ve included some treats, like mince pies and biscuits, in the shop – so I hope the families will enjoy them.”

Charlie Lee, said: “I’ve heard a bit about food banks before, but didn’t really know how they actually worked. Today has been so interesting to learn about it all, and brilliant to meet Gary and Chris who work tirelessly, along with their volunteers, to make sure the local community are supported when they are most in need.”

On Saturday 22nd December, Eat or Heat volunteers will be at The Breyer Group Stadium to raise awareness and donations amongst the fans attending the Leyton Orient vs Chesterfield game.

Gary Nash, Founder, Eat or Heat, said: “The holidays are a particularly difficult time as children are home from school and more food needs to be found, leaving many people with the real choice of whether they heat their property, or provide food to eat for their family.”

“We believe no-one should be forced to make a choice like that in our community, and that is why, in association with our friends at Leyton Orient Football Club, we are asking for your help.”

Fans attending the match on 22nd December will be able to donate to Eat or Heat if they wish, alternatively you can donate online: www.eatorheat.org/cash-donation
Food banks doubling up as polling stations " Sums up modern Britain. "


Voters have expressed outrage that various food banks are being used as polling stations today. At least two facilities are closed because of the General Election, with people hitting out at countless venues doubling up as places to vote – claiming it ‘tells you everything you need to know’ about modern Britain.

The food bank charity the Trussell Trust says around 440 of its venues open on Thursdays, but is not certain of exactly how many are shut today to accommodate voters.

Cardiff’s Ely and Central foodbanks – both situated in churches – have been unable to open today because the buildings are being used as voting centres.

One of the sessions is being rescheduled, a volunteer from the facility told Metro.co.uk. There have also been numerous reports on social media of buildings normally used by food banks being used as polling stations for today’s election.


In the Cardiff West constituency, Labour voter Leon Ward tweeted a photo of a notice reading: ‘No foodbank session here due to the General Election.’

He added: ‘This was in my polling station. ‘Surely it tells you everything you need to know about the state of the UK in 2019.’

Various others on the social network site echoed the point, suggesting the doubling up ‘says it all’. Pictures show various food banks being used to accommodate voters, including some around Liverpool, Huddersfield, London, Basingstoke and Elland.

In November, the Trussell Trust said it handed out nearly 1 million food parcels in the UK in a record-breaking six months. More than 300,000 of their three-day parcels were given to children.

Local councils organise facilities for people to vote at, with many schools, churches, town halls and other community venues in use.

Food banks often use such locations to both store and hand out food, leaving many to slam the symbolism of the facilities doubling up for today’s vote.

The Trussell Trust, which estimates that its network of 1,200 food banks accounts for around two thirds of the facilities in the UK, said it was looking into how many of its facilities are closed today.

Chief executive Emma Revie added: ‘We’re seeing more and more people being pushed to food banks than ever before. To read more of our coverage of the 2019 General Election, click here.

‘This General Election, all political parties must pledge to protect people from hunger by ensuring everyone has enough money for the basics.’ She continued: ‘We want our next government to start working towards a future where no one needs a food bank 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.

‘Together, these three changes will put money back into the pockets of people who most need our support. ‘It’s not right that anyone has to walk through the doors of a food bank in the UK. But it’s in our power as a country to end the need for food banks – this can change.’ The electoral commission said it did not have any national statistics for which facilities were being used as polling stations.


" Hi Stan. Using a food bank for a polling station ? Those poor souls who need one ? Who did you vote for ? "

" Yep , I have a lot of sympathy for those poor souls. Shouldn't be possible in today's world. Voting ? Tory ... of course ! "

Sums up " Modern " Britain to a tee ???
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