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FOOD / Energy / Clothing BANKS : MORE A HUMANITARIAN THREAD ? 100,000+ Carers Reported As Needing Them In 2018 - Page 27 - 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.
393 posts
Blog from Trussells ... also posted the main UC thread :

Caught between a rock and a hard place : why advance payments are not the solution to the five week wait.

Unaffordable DWP loans are not the answer to the five week wait.

Would you be able to go five weeks without any money?

When you apply for Universal Credit, that’s the minimum amount of time you have to wait for your first payment.

We put out our year-end food bank figures last week showing that a record 1.6 million food parcels had been given out by our network last year, a 19% increase on the year before. Universal Credit now accounts for half of all referrals to food banks due to benefits delays, and waiting for Universal Credit is a growing trigger forcing people to food banks.

While you wait, you can apply for an ‘advance payment’ – that’s a loan from the Government to see you through that five week period. Once your Universal Credit payments start, you pay that loan back automatically through deductions from your monthly payments.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) tell us that these repayments are affordable, but we know that’s not true – food banks and the people they support tell us they can leave people stuck between a rock and a hard place. Here’s why:

It seems like common sense to assess whether you have enough coming in to pay your loan back. In the private sector, it’s best practice for debt collectors to do an income assessment of the person and then set repayments at a level that won’t push people into hardship.

But that’s not how advance payments work – deduction levels are set by the DWP and don’t take into account your ability to pay them, or whether you’ll fall into financial hardship while doing so. In some cases, you can have your repayment levels renegotiated, but this is rare – and by that point, you’re likely already in arrears.

The Government prevents the lending industry pushing people into financial hardship when repaying debts – so why is it allowed to get away with it ?

Deductions are capped at 40% of your Universal Credit standard amount, and the DWP says most people don’t pay this much.

But even relatively small deductions to people’s living costs can lock people into poverty. We know people on Universal Credit might not have enough to cover even basic essentials like food, because of cuts to the system and the freeze on working-age benefits.

The debt advice and management charity StepChange found that 71% of the people they support have experienced hardship because of deductions, and a quarter of those with deductions had to spend less on food to get by. They found that even a deduction of just 5% can push people deeper into financial hardship.

It’s hard to budget for paying back arrears – particularly if, like many people in financial hardship, you have multiple debts you need to repay.

An advance isn’t necessarily the only thing you’d be repaying through an automatic deduction – you could be paying back a third party debt for energy bills or council tax. Depending on the level of your debts, these additional repayments could tip you above the 40% cap set by the DWP.

The Government is also using the move to Universal Credit to recover historic debts, so people are finding themselves hit by surprise repayments for debts they didn’t know they had.

When people can’t pay their rent because their repayments don’t leave them enough to cover it, they fall into rent arrears which affect housing associations and private landlords. Local Authorities, like Southwark Council and Newcastle Council have said that the five week wait for the first Universal Credit payment is a strain on their finances as their crisis funds are running out.

And we know food banks have seen higher increases in demand in areas where Universal Credit has rolled out.

So what’s the solution ?

In the short term, the DWP should make advance payments into grants. At the very least, this could be targeted at people who need it most – those with inescapable higher living costs such as disabled people or people who might struggle to access support.

This would help prevent some of the millions of people who will be moving onto Universal Credit from facing debt, deductions, and hardship down the line. But it won’t solve the root problem. Universal Credit should be protecting people from poverty, not pushing them into it – that’s why we need a longer term solution, one that deals with the fact that most people can’t last five weeks without money coming in.

A true solution would be to make the wait for a first payment shorter so people don’t have a significant gap between applying for Universal Credit and being paid.

The Government needs to end the five week wait now.

Join the #5WeeksTooLong campaign and help make that happen or find out more on our website.


“What we are seeing year-upon-year is more and more people struggling to eat because they simply cannot afford food. This is not right.

“Enough is enough. We know this situation can be fixed – that’s why we’re campaigning to create a future where no one needs a food bank. 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. As a priority, we’re urging the government to end the wait for Universal Credit to ease the pressure on thousands of households.

“Ultimately, it’s unacceptable that anyone should have to use a food bank in the first place. No charity can replace the dignity of having financial security. That’s why in the long-term, we’re urging the Government to ensure benefit payments reflect the true cost of living and work is secure, paying the real Living Wage, to help ensure we are all anchored from poverty.”
The academics wade in ... as if viewing street life through distant telescopes ???

Could poor policies be driving UK child hunger ?

Shivalee Patel, Eleni Iacovidou and Dr Manoj Dora ... Brunel University.

( What's this one worth ? A second class degree and £ 50K per year ? )

Poverty is a daily reality for 14 million people in the UK, even though it is the world’s fifth richest economy. Food poverty, defined as “the inability to afford, or to have access to, food to make up a healthy diet”, impacts a soaring number of children and adults. Child poverty in the UK is a social calamity and an economic disaster. The probability of experiencing food insecurity - having no reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable nutritious food - has almost doubled in 12 years among those with low incomes, to 46% in 2016.

Statistics also suggest that almost 60% of people in poverty earn a wage, which challenges the notion that employment can alleviate poverty as emphasised in the UK Child Poverty Strategy 2014-17. This year, the legal wage increased from £7.83 to £8.21 per hour for those over 25 years old, but is still short of the real living wage. London weighting is not included in the legal wage, so not reflective of the true cost of living which is £9.00 per hour across the UK and £10.55 per hour in London. The problem is that as wages remain low and food prices go up, people are less able to afford food.

In 2018, a UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Professor Philip Alston, concluded that “poverty is a political choice. Austerity could easily have spared the poor, if the political will had existed to do so”. In reality, there is a huge gap in policymakers’ understanding of real-life family poverty, despite the UK government’s commitment to end hunger through improved nutrition and sustainable farming, as described in the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Some may suggest that the UK government has been supporting vulnerable people, such as children, people with disabilities, older people on pensions and migrants, via benefits (Universal Credit). Yet, people claim that the benefit is not enough to cover their basic needs and they often go hungry. Changes such as delayed payments that were previously paid in advance is a large source of delay and debt. Moreover, benefit provisions sanction applicants by withholding funds, further complicating and elongating the process of receiving aid. These and other problems have made it difficult for claimants to use this system and receive vital funds.

People claiming benefits are often afraid to ask for more help as they could be considered unable to support their children and risk losing their children to social services. A single mother of four children, interviewed at Wisbech Food Bank in Cambridgeshire, raised concerns that benefit cuts have restricted her from ensuring her children are fed adequately.

The Trussell Trust, the UK’s largest food bank charity, reported a 5% increase in emergency food parcels distributed between 2008 and 2018. Distribution rose from just under 26,000 to more than 1.33 million within a decade. Other independent food banks have established themselves in the UK over this time, as a way to promote food security and alleviate food poverty.

But is this a sustainable solution? Using food banks to treat inequalities may be driven by poor policies and capitalism and can result in more poverty. A well-balanced diet is not guaranteed through food banks as it relies solely on donations. Conditions like obesity, malnutrition, hypertension, iron deficiency, and impaired liver function continue to thrive amongst populations living in poverty. Other research shows loss of dignity and cultural preferences is linked to food bank use.
Ground zero ... Oban , Western coast of Scotland.

Unity at last at grass roots level ???

IGNORE the political angle .... for once ?

All Under One Banner in call for Oban food bank donations.

ALL Under One Banner (AUOB) has announced it is link up with a food bank in the next town in which they will hold a march and really for independence.

The group has made collections for food banks in the past, but now they are appealing to those members of the Yes movement who are intending to be in Oban on Saturday week. They are asking those marching for independence to do what they can to support a particular local independent food bank – the only one in the town.

Neil Mackay, spokesman AUOB, explained: “For June 15 in Oban we have organised a food bank collection for Hope Kitchen, which is an independent food bank and the only one in Oban.

“We are asking the independence movement to bring items such as tins, boxes and packets of mince, haggis, macaroni cheese, meatballs, dried potatoes, cereals, rice, vegetables, soup, dried milk, pasta, sauces, cold meat and pasta, as well as any other necessary household items such as washing up liquid, laundry powder, nappies, etc.

“The drop-off point for all food bank donations will be at the Atlantis car park from 1pm until 2.30pm.

He added: “All Under One Banner demonstrations have a long history of staging highly successful food bank collections in the past and so we ask everyone to please bring some items and continue with our generous reputation, which, let it be said, is an absolutely appalling necessity in 21st-century Scotland, caused by the stinking greed and corruption of this unequal UK Union, and a clear and present indictment that the Westminster system is broken at its core and that the only solution for Scotland is to regain independence.”

The team at AUOB is busy gearing up for the march and rally for independence which is taking place just a fortnight after the successful event last weekend in Galashiels.

Mackay said: “The two marches being staged so close together serves as a catalyst for the indyref2 campaign, bringing a real sense of acceleration to Scotland’s independence movement and acting as phenomenal displays of the power of Yes across the country from the Borders to the West coast – the whole of Scotland is our territory.

“It’s also very important that we update everyone that AUOB have organised buses leaving from Glasgow City Chambers at 10.30am on June 15 taking passengers to Oban for the march and rally, before returning back to Glasgow City Chambers, arriving at 10.30pm that night.

He added: “The bargain price tickets, only £13, are on sale right now and are selling fast so please book early to avoid disappointment.

“We expect several thousand participants on June 15 as we march for Scotland’s freedom at the gateway to the Isles. What a sight, what an experience this will be so get to Oban on the 15th and together lets declare loud and proud the approach of indyref2 and our independence.”
Ground zero ... Surrey ... one of the very last manors you would think would be under this thread ?

Fears Universal Credit roll-out and rise in use of foodbanks linked, councillors warned.

Surrey was one of the last places in England to start the Universal Credit scheme in October 2018.

Fears of a rise in more people needing emergency supplies from foodbanks as they start claiming Universal Credit have been raised as welfare experts stress the need for an alternative solution to handouts.

They say there should be more collaboration with supermarkets to help people in Surrey access food in a crisis and although foodbanks do great work, they are not a long-term solution.

The comments come as data reveals a rise in the use of foodbanks 12 months after people start receiving the government’s new Universal Credit benefit help.

But the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) says the reason behind people using foodbanks is “more complex”.

Surrey was one of the last areas to receive the full roll-out of the Universal Credit system. New claimants in Guildford were switched on to the scheme in October and November last year and will continue to be moved to the new system as circumstances change.

But data published in a Food Poverty report for Guildford Borough Council (GBC) refers to Trussell Trust research that suggests “in areas of full roll-out of the Universal Credit there is a demonstrable increase in demand for local foodbanks”.

The Trust’s figures show that on average, 12 months after roll-out, foodbanks see a 52% increase in demand compared to 13% in areas with Universal Credit for three months or less.

Speaking to councillors at GBC overview and scrutiny meeting on Tuesday (June 4), Professor of food and health policy at University of London Martin Caraher said foodbanks were not the solution to food poverty.

He said: “My point isn’t that things like foodbanks are bad themselves. But the need for foodbanks themselves show a dismantling of the state.”

According to the report, North Guildford Food Bank recorded key drivers of their emergency food aid in 2017 as being 31% of users having benefit problems, 31% of users were homeless or had debt issues or a delay with wages or sickness and 34% were on low income.

Universal Credit is a monthly payment to help people with their living costs.

It replaces child tax credit, housing benefit, income support, Jobseekers’ Allowance, income-related employment and support allowances and working tax credit.

DWP figures show there are 728 people in Guildford receiving it.

But the meeting heard experts stress the need to find a solution in light of the report flagging up the rise in foodbank use once people are switched to the new scheme.

Maria Zealey, from Surrey Welfare Rights Unit, said: “The significant rise of foodbank use after Universal Credit arrives in a local area is the tip of the iceberg.”

She stressed the need for services to be created to help with food poverty that benefited everybody and not just the poor.

She added: “We shouldn’t have foodbanks. They are here at the moment, but what can we do instead and what can we do working with supermarkets?”

Referring to the 52% increase of foodbank use, Cllr Colin Cross said: “If my arithmetic is correct, we are halfway down that road so we are probably having a 25% increase in demand for our foodbanks which will rise to 50% - which will be a crisis level. We ought to be looking at what we can do about that if it’s happening as we speak.”

A DWP spokesman said it was hard to attribute a rise in foodbank use to Universal Credit as data such as unemployment and other factors needed to be taken into account.

In Guildford there are currently around 1,020 people looking for work - an increase of only one compared to the year before.

The DWP said: “The reasons for people using foodbanks are complex. Meanwhile for those who need extra support, the UK government spends over £90 billion a year on support for those who need it, including those who are on a low income.”

The food poverty report will be considered by councillors at July’s full council meeting.
Ground zero ... Preston , Lancashier ... what Fair Share are upto :

Preston charity FareShare saved 390 tons of fresh food from the bin.

How Preston charity FareShare is helping hard-up families by making the most of surplus fruit, vegetables and groceries.

A Preston-based charity which saves fresh food from being binned has provided almost one million meals to people in need.

FareShare has salvaged 390 tonnes of fresh, surplus food that was heading for landfill, and diverted it to school breakfast clubs, domestic violence refuges, foodbanks and older people’s lunch clubs.

It comes as the roll out of Universal Credit has meant more people are struggling to afford to eat, resorting to food banks.

“The amount of food that we are redistributing, that’s the tip of the iceberg,” said Katie Upton, marketing manager at Recycling Lives, the base from which FareShare runs its distribution network in Lancashire and Cumbria.

“FareShare is about dealing with the fact that there’s that much food going to waste and that there’s that many people in need of food in the UK in 2019.”

In Preston, the FareShare scheme fed an estimated 3,557 people in need each week in the last financial year - saving 62.4 tonnes of surplus food from waste.

The Trussell Trust, which runs foodbanks up and down the country, has seen a 13 per cent rise in food parcels being handed out in Lancashire.

Katie said: “FareShare bridges the gap between supermarkets, food suppliers, farmers with surplus food and members of the community who are in need of food.

“On bank holiday weekend, for example, everyone expected it to be really sunny so supermarkets ordered a lot of extra burgers for BBQs and a lot of extra surplus food but they were not able to put it out onto the shelves so that food comes to us.

“In another way, farmers might anticipate having a certain size of crop but one year it might be a bumper crop which they can’t use - that extra food comes to us too.

“Then there is seasonal food like Easter eggs that we get as well.

“It’s cheaper for these organisations to let that surplus just go to waste where it’s incinerated but instead food should be used to feed people.

“So it comes to us and we distribute it to a network of charities and homeless groups.

“And on top of feeding people - it’s also money. These groups are saving rather than spending.

“As long as that need is there we will do the work that we do.”

FareShare Lancashire and Cumbria general manager, Jeff Green, added: “Times are tough for charities, with funding increasingly hard to come by.

“The food we redistribute is great quality and tastes just like the food you would eat at home.

“It’s amazing that we can take something that could be thrown away and turn it into something that creates enormous social benefit.”

The Preston based warehouse, run by partner charity Recycling Lives, currently serves a network of 163 organisations across the region.

Recycling Lives delivers the food to these groups, alongside its work rehabilitating offenders and supporting the homeless, all supported by its business operations in recycling and waste management.

Stats for Central Lancashire


l Provided food to 38 charities and community groups

l Helped to feed an estimated 3,557 people in need each week

l Saved 62.4 tons of surplus food from waste by diverting to charities in this area which created 148,574 nutritious meals

l And saved charities a total of £105,052 – which is reinvested to provide other services such as debt counselling, holiday schemes for children, or housing advice

South Ribble

l Provided food to three charities and community groups

l Helped to feed an estimated 321 people in need each week

l Saved 11.7 tons of surplus food from waste by diverting to charities in this area which created 27,857 nutritious meals

l And saved charities a total of £21,252


l Provided food to two charities and community groups

l Helped to feed an estimated 214 people in need each week

l Saved 2.4 tons of surplus food from waste by diverting to charities in this area which created 5,714 nutritious meals

l And saved charities a total of £4,069

About Fare Share Lancashire and Cumbria

FareShare was born out of the belief that no good food should go to waste, especially when people are going hungry.

It saves more than 390 tonnes of good surplus food from right across the food supply chain nationally and redistributes it to 163 charities and community groups throughout Lancashire and Cumbria.

The charity takes surplus food from the food industry that can’t be sold in shops, either because of packaging errors or a short shelf life, but is still good to eat and redistributes it to frontline charities and community groups.

Food items and categories redistributed include fresh meat and fish, fruit and vegetables, ready meals, milk and cheeses.

In the last year alone school breakfast clubs, domestic violence refuges, older people’s lunch clubs, food banks and hospices used FareShare food to provide 910,138 meals for vulnerable people who might otherwise go hungry. Nationally, this saw the charity sector save over £1,287,700, which helped to feed 17,441 people every week.

A national survey found that, on average, each charity saves £7,900 from its yearly food bill by using food from FareShare, with one in five charities saying that without that food they’d have to close.

The food also helps the charities provide healthier, more nutritious meals, with 77 per cent saying it’s improved their client’s diets.

Salvation Army Foodbank in Preston

At the foodbank in Preston the Salvation Army is having to turn hungry people away because they are running out of food to hand out.

Bosses at the centre in Harrington Street, which only gives out non-perishable food and cannot take the fresh food that FareShare distributes, say they think well-wishers are struggling with donation fatigue.

They say they only ever have five days of food to give out at a time when the demand is at an all time high as Universal Credit is brought into place.

Staff member Natalie Thomas said: “We are really struggling. I think people are exhausted from giving but I also think that there are a lot of little foodbanks which have set up and people are donating more locally now.

“We have seen a drop in donations but not a drop in referrals. Since July last year the referrals have not eased at all.

“It’s since Universal Credit came in. We give out five to seven days worth of food because people are only getting paid once a month now.

“We are turning people away.

“If people have had three referrals when they come back a fourth time we have to turn them away. We only have five days worth of food at the centre.

“We are going out every week spending £300 trying to top up the food.

“We are trying everything we can. We have set up a JustGiving page and an Amazon wishlist. We can also accept online deliveries. Churches Together does donate regularly.

“Nothing we are doing at the moment though is bringing food in.

“Since July when Universal Credit started getting rolled out in Preston our referrals have increased by 25 per cent.

“That’s dropped by around 10 per cent in the last couple of months but only because we are having to turn people away and we are asking that referrals go to other foodbanks. Even with that we are struggling to maintain the foodbank.

“We are literally in need of everything. We haven’t even got any pasta and we’re low on beans and soup.

“It’s never been this bad. Our appeals don’t seem to have an effect.

“People are exhausted but the need is real.”

What is Universal Credit?

Introduced as part of the Conservatives’ welfare reform, Universal Credit replaces six benefits - child tax credit, housing benefit, income support, jobseeker’s allowance (JSA), employment and support allowance (ESA), and working tax credit - with one monthly payment.

Historically, benefits were paid fortnightly.

Only new claimants and those with a change in circumstances are currently put on Universal Credit, though the Government plans to start shifting all those on old style benefits onto the new system from July, starting in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

A change in circumstances can be as little as moving home or a child turning 18. Universal Credit was rolled out in Preston last July, with almost 5,000 people already on it. Some 1,521 have jobs.

Those moved onto Universal Credit have to wait at least five weeks for their first payment, which charity The Trussell Trust said is “leaving many without enough money to cover the basics”.

“There are other problems with Universal Credit, but the five-week wait is one of the key reasons why we’ve seen a rise in people needing food banks where it has been rolled out,” it said.

Struggling families can apply for an ‘advance’ sum - a loan of up to 100 per cent of their estimated monthly payment to help bridge the gap - but they have to be repaid over 12 months - or 16 from October 2021.

The Trussell Trust, which runs foodbanks up and down the country, said people are left “between a rock and a hard place: no money now, or not enough money later?”

A 13 per cent rise in food parcels being handed out in Lancashire has also been recorded by the charity, which is campaigning for the five week wait to be reduced, in the past year.

Ground zero ... The Smoke ... London.

A timely reminder ... given the number of collection tins around this week ?

Most children who use food banks will go hungry this summer in London.

Over two thirds of children in poverty in the capital will go hungry during the school summer holidays unless charities provide free food and activities, new research has found.

The same number say they are afraid of being targeted by gangs and over half report a high risk of being sexually exploited because their parents have no choice but to leave them at home alone.

Child poverty campaigners said the research showed how school summer holidays offer a ‘bleak outlook’ for growing numbers of children in London.

The Childhood Trust warned that cuts to youth services and charity grants – which disproportionately affect low income families – mean more than half a million children in the city will go hungry this summer.

Child activists from one of the capital’s poorest boroughs have today launched a manifesto calling on the government to end summer holiday hunger and provide free activities to make sure vulnerable children are safe when they’re not at school.

Pupils from Peckham, who earlier this year made a film to show what it is really like to use a food bank, have been sharing their harrowing experiences of being beaten up, bullied and too scared to go outside during the summer holidays.

Aged just 9, one of the children involved revealed how she had been targeted and assaulted by gang members.

She said: ‘Every time I’d come outside they’d punch me and hurt me and tease me.

‘I still have the scars on my knees from where they hurt me.’

The Trust, which today launches its Summer Give campaign, said half of children in poverty under the age of 11 will be left without adult supervision because of the price of holiday clubs.

On average it costs £121 a week to send a child to a holiday club – more than £700 for the duration of the summer holidays.

‘Local councils have cut youth services by 44 per cent on average since 2011 and there are not enough places for children to attend,’ the Childhood Trust said.

‘Whilst the government recognises the impact of poverty on children during the summer holidays it has failed to address this with just £9.1million of funding allocated to support 50,000 children in 11 areas of England.

‘Councils in London have suffered the largest cuts to annual youth services budgets with Westminster’s funding per child slashed by more than half, from £1,591 to £761.62.’

The Trust’s chief executive Laurence Guinness said: ‘It’s heart breaking to see seven, eight and nine year olds appealing to the government to provide proper funding for children who are going hungry and are terrified during the holidays.

‘Cutting youth services is a false economy and is contributing to increased crime, youth violence and child exploitation.’

Since 2013, the Trust has raised £11.3 million in match funding campaigns for over 150 projects ‘to provide a lifeline for London’s poorest kids’, Laurence said.


Ground zero ... Islington , North London ... Gooner territory ... Jeremy Corbyn's constituency.

On this manor , rents ... and what you'll get in Housing Benefit ... DON'T ASK ... not a gap , more a chasm !!!

926% spike in people using Islington Food Bank since 2011 linked to " Welfare reforms, austerity & Universal Credit. "

The number of people using Islington Food Bank has soared by 926 per cent over the past seven years due to "welfare reforms, austerity and Universal Credit", councillors claim.

The Trussell Trust's Islington Food Bank, run from Highbury Roundhouse Youth and Community Centre, in Ronalds Road, has seen its numbers spike from 383 to 3,688 users in the seven years to January. The food banks also had 5,688 users between April 2018 and March 2019 - a 12 per cent rise on the year before.

The revelations comes from the Policy and Performance Scrutiny committee's much anticipated report on the Government's controversial flagship welfare reform,Universal Credit. It has monitoring the new benefit since it started was rolled out in Islington in June.

Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn told the Gazette: "The huge increase in the numbers of people relying on food banks to feed themselves and their families shames our country. Brutal cuts to our social security system introduced by the Conservatives since 2010 have created disgraceful levels of poverty in one of the wealthiest countries in the world.

"Austerity was a political choice, creating the shocking levels of poverty, homelessness and destitution that we see both in Islington and across the country.

"This government has rightly been condemned by the United Nations' special rapporteur for its neglect of its own citizens and failing the most vulnerable in our society."

Mr Corbyn wants to "reverse the shocking and rising levels of poverty, "end the benefit freeze, scrap the bedroom tax, stop the roll-out of Universal Credit" and end the five-week wait for benefit payments.

The committee's vice chair Cllr Troy Gallagher told the Gazette: "Quite clearly there is a clear link between the increase in food bank usage and all the effects of austerity. The increase of Universal Credit and the six-week gap before people get paid means people still have to get vouchers and go to food banks because they can't afford to feed themselves and their children.

"I think it's a sad indictment of government policy on austerity and the damaging effects of Universal Credit on families and communities in this point where food banks and clothes banks are becoming normal."

The report also highlights the "majority of food bank users were the 'working poor', and families with three or more children". These groups are said to have lost more than £60 per week under Universal Credit.

Cllr Gallagher added: "We're talking about frontline teachers, teaching assistants who have steady employment are having to rely on food banks because the cost of living and stagnant wages. It's terrible."

In March, a mother-of-three and full time carer, Zainab Mohammed, 48, told the Gazette: "I was pushed into rent arrears and Universal Credit and made to feel I was begging at the food bank, I feel it's really unfair."

Universal Credit is an online-only system of monthly payments, replacing six working age benefits, including Job Seeker's Allowance and Housing Benefit.

Low income was the biggest driver for referrals to Islington Food Bank over this period, rising from 28 pc to 43 pc.

But a spokesperson added that "the number of clients coming in due to benefit delays or changes has fallen from 44 pc in 2017 - 2018 to 40 pc this year."

Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust said: "What we are seeing year-upon-year is more and more people struggling to eat because they simply cannot afford food. This is not right.

"Enough is enough. We know this situation can be fixed - that's why we're campaigning to create a future where no one needs a food bank. 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. As a priority, we're urging the government to end the wait for Universal Credit to ease the pressure on thousands of households.

"Ultimately, it's unacceptable that anyone should have to use a food bank in the first place. No charity can replace the dignity of having financial security. "That's why in the long-term, we're urging the Government to ensure benefit payments reflect the true cost of living and work is secure, paying the real Living Wage, to help ensure we are all anchored from poverty."

A DWP spokesperson said: "The reasons for people using food banks are complex and they cannot be attributed to a single cause.

"For those who need extra support, the UK Government spends over £95 billion a year on support for those who need it, including those who are on a low income."

Between January and March this year 1,444 people used Islington Food Bank, including 365 children.
Ground zero ... Peterborough , Third Eye country ... sorry , Posh fans ... and even nurseries come to the rescue :

Peterborough nurseries collect for food banks.

Stars Day Nurseries across Peterborough have joined together to help support families in disadvantaged areas by introducing a food bank collection scheme.

Each Stars setting in Peterborough has put in place a collection scheme for food donations which are being allocated to some of the most disadvantaged families they work with.

Mohammed Younis, of Stars Day Nurseries, said: “Many families have jobs but are unable to provide enough income to pay for food and utilities.

“Being in the childcare sector, Stars recognise the importance of children having regular healthy meals which in turn supports their behaviour, health and concentration levels. This is all part of our ongoing effort to ensure we can continue to support the families and children we work with.

“The staff are passionate about ensuring they support the children to flourish and allow them the opportunity to reach their full potential. I’m extremely proud that they have put this in place, it demonstrates their passion and commitment to the children and the company.

“Only last week, we had a family at one of our settings who had no electric or food. The team rallied together and by the next day they had collected bags of food from the Stars settings, brought food themselves and also managed to raise £50 donation for their electric.

“They could go home proud knowing the child would be fed and warm.”

Stars Day Nurseries have been an integral part of the Peterborough community since they opened in 2003.

Their expansion over the last 15 years has resulted in 10 nursery and preschool early years settings in Peterborough serving over 1000 children and families serving in some of the most disadvantaged areas in the city.
The kids forced to live on margarine butties in foodbank Britain during school holidays.

Thousands of families who rely on free school lunches and breakfasts are turning to foodbanks in the summer to give their children a decent meal.

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/s ... ng-6275078

n a church hall on the outskirts of Norwich, a seven-year-old girl is clearing her plate. Toad-in-the-hole, peas, sweetcorn, trifle. She asks if she can get a second dessert.

What did she have to eat for lunch yesterday? “Margarine sandwich,” she says.

“Sometimes we have crisp sandwiches but we didn’t have any crisps.”

What about tea? “We didn’t have anything for tea,” she says, matter-of-factly. She is more interested in showing me her wobbly tooth. “Mum was stressed out. We just went to bed.” She sighs. “I hate the school holidays.”

I am at a lunch club at St Francis Church on the Heartsease estate, one of the poorer corners of a relatively affluent city.

Parents and carers are explaining that when you rely on free school lunches – and often free breakfasts too – the holidays can be one long struggle to find enough to eat.

Frank Field, the Labour MP who last year led the UK Inquiry into Hunger and Food Poverty and published the Feeding Britain report, says there has been a conspiracy of silence on the issue.

“School holiday hunger is the one great unmentionable in British politics,” he told me last week at a lunch-club project in his Birkenhead constituency.

“Grown-up politicians find it easier to be silent while all too many poor children go hungry.”

Last year, the Trussell Trust charity noted 20,000 more emergency referrals to its foodbanks in the summer months than in the three months before.

CEO David McAuley, says it’s not just food that families are struggling with, but other basic essentials too.

“One mum told us that she worries even about affording toilet roll, because having the children at home every day means they will get through it that bit faster,” he says.

This hunger gap has led to the Trussell Trust partnering with charities like Magic Breakfast and Make Lunch this summer to try to help families find local lunch clubs. Meanwhile Norwich foodbank has launched its own scheme called FISH (Fun and Food in School Holidays).

Around 250 miles away in Birkenhead, Field has helped local projects win funding focused on providing food. Last week we visited the Tranmere Community Project, which is putting on a daily lunch as part of its school holiday programme. In the local area around 60 per cent of pupils are on free school meals.

“The holidays are an absolute nightmare,” Helen Robinson, 42, told me. “You’ve got all this extra money to find and nothing extra coming in.”

She was at the project with her two youngest children and granddaughter. Her husband is disabled, leaving the family struggling on a tiny income.

“You’ve got uniforms to buy and all these extra expenses. We just about manage on sunny days. But on rainy days everything costs a fortune or you just get trapped in the house.”

Another mum calls the project a godsend. “I hardly get paid as it is,” she says. “And you’ve got even less money in the holidays because you’ve got to find more childcare or do less hours.”

Later that lunchtime we visit a park in North Birkenhead where the local Woodcraft Folk run a free picnic lunch and activities three days a week.

Along a trestle table, child­ren are making themselves a healthy lunch.

“My daughter has just eaten avocado for the first time,” a father tells me. Recently laid off, he says he doesn’t know what his family would do without the project.

“It’s not just lunch – it’s all the snacks they need, the drinks. In term-time our daughter gets a free breakfast at school as well, and free fruit in class.”

Last year, I wrote a report for this column on Holiday Hunger after a survey showed 40 per cent of teachers believed children weren’t eating enough in the holidays. Research from Kelloggs showed that one in five families struggled to feed their kids. Anecdotally, several teachers had told me that children came back in September noticeably thinner.

A year on, there has been no effort from government to address the issue.

“Since February we have served 1,600 meals,” says Hannah Worsley, from Norwich Foodbank.

“We’re running five clubs, one starting today. But we’re stretched very thin. We can only run this scheme in Heartsease twice over the whole summer.”

Charities say that when they advertise projects as lunchclubs, families are less likely to come because of the stigma. So food is usually offered as part of a wider day of activities.

In Birkenhead the children had spent the morning learning circus skills. In Norwich, they were solving a CSI mystery.

“It’s really important our kids have something to go back to school after the holidays and tell their classmates about,” says Lynne Cullens, chief executive of Tranmere Community Project.

“They shouldn’t always have to feel second best.”

In Norwich, families leave the project that afternoon with Lego as well as leftovers. Everyone gets a plum donated by the local allotments and slices of bread from a local supermarket.

“That’s another meal sorted at least,” mum Jeanette Beasley, 41, says. Even though she is struggling herself she has baked a cupcake for every person at the lunchclub, and every volunteer.

In Birkenhead, a little girl arrives at Ilchester Park from the estate behind, bringing a punnet of cherries and blueberries to donate to the lunch. “From my mum,” she says.

In Norwich, a little girl goes home to two more weeks of margarine sandwiches, dreaming of the day when school starts again.
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