FOOD / ENERGY / CLOTHING BANKS : Trussells & Related News / Guidance / 100,000+ Carers Reported As Needing Them In 2018

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Hypocrisy ... at it's finest ?

Food banks should shame Tories - but instead they use them for photo shoots.

Smug Conservative politicians - including Dominic Raab, Nicky Morgan and Iain Duncan Smith - smile while their botched welfare reforms have caused a 49 per cent rise in foodbank use ­nationwide.


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I visited my local foodbank this week and saw precious few smiles on the faces of the clients who’d trudged inside from the rain.

Most of them, clutching vouchers they’d been given by their GPs, or kids’ school ­teachers, looked anxious or embarrassed.

Some looked ashamed.

Like single dad Barry, a former soldier who fought in Bosnia and Kuwait, now struggling to raise his eight-year-old daughter on benefits.

“I feel I’ve let myself down,” he said, staring at the floor.

“If you can’t afford to feed your kid you must have gone wrong somewhere.

“I’d never had debts. But then I was put on to Universal Credit my rent wasn’t backdated, I ran up rent arrears and ­everything went pear shaped.

“Of course, I’m grateful that foodbanks can help. But they’re not something to be proud of, are they?”

Tell that to the string of smug Tory politicians who’ve been using them for self-promotional ­photo-ops this Christmas.

The MPs and ministers who rock up at supermarket ­collection points, don volunteer bibs or hold a few cans of beans for a pic to post on social media.

“Caring” Conservatives like Dominic Raab, Nicky Morgan and Caroline Nokes are encouraging us to help feed the hungry, when it’s their party’s ­austerity polices that left stomachs rumbling.

And Iain Duncan Smith, whose Universal Credit cock-up sparked so much suffering – wants shoppers to throw a few extra items in their trolleys for hungry kids this Christmas.

The hypocrisy sticks in my craw.

Botched Tory welfare reforms have caused a 49 per cent rise in foodbank use ­nationwide.

At mine, in Southwark, South London, there’s been a 30 per cent spike in demand – and 80 per cent of the increase is due to UC.

Demand is so great the ­charity, Pecan, which runs it with the Trussell Trust has considered getting a bigger ­warehouse and its own vans.

But manager Simon Boxhall says that would “make a ­commercial operation out of ­something that shouldn’t exist”.

He added: “We are sailing into a situation where ­foodbanks are an accepted part of the welfare state.


Reform is necessary but are we ­comfortable that we’ve put more responsibility for welfare on to the general public?”

Those beaming Tory foodbank fans clearly ARE at ease with this new status quo.

But the anguished faces of the families ­reliant on 1.5 million free meals this Christmas, should make them hang their heads in shame.
" This is supposed to be a rich country " : volunteers on the reality of food bank Britain.


Alison Riggott, 40.

S6 food bank, Sheffield


My husband’s work arranged a food bank collection, as part of their corporate social responsibility. I rang up the organiser and said: “I can come, but I’ll have to bring my baby.” He was eight months old and used to sit in a high chair. We get a lot of young mothers who are embarrassed to be there; having a baby at the table immediately makes a connection. Straight away, you are talking about sleep, or lack of.

Before I started, I thought I was socially aware. Actually, I had no clue. I was living in my own little bubble. My boys come home from school. “Can I get a snack?” “Of course you can.” It has been a massive eye-opener.

Quite a few asylum-seeking families who come to our food bank had babies of the same age. The bittersweet thing is they are still coming, so we see their babies grow up. The mums remember my little boy. He will turn three in May.

I see lots of single gentlemen in their 60s, who have lived in Sheffield their entire lives, had a health condition and can no longer work. They say: “It’s all fine.” Then you will hear the voice crack and the tears start. They say: “I’m sorry, I tried not to come.” At first I used to come out and cry. Now, it’s more like anger. Things aren’t getting better for these people, our guests. I talk to my boys about it. I hope that, by talking, the next generation will think differently.

Abdalkarim Sama, 66.

Sufra NW London food bank.

I worked in engineering all my life. My last firm, where I was manager, closed down. It was winter and it was so boring at home. One day, I went to the supermarket and they were collecting for Sufra. I asked if they could give me a volunteering job.

It was so interesting to meet new people. If you help, you feel good. I thought: I’ll carry on here. It’s the opposite of engineering, isn’t it? There, you are working with machines, delivering stuff, forklifts, supplying car parts to other engineering companies. I work five days a week; it’s nearly a full-time job. It keeps me out of trouble and I get exercise. My father used to do the same thing in Uganda. He used to help local people who were in trouble with food.

There was one guy who asked for food. After he had his soup, he said: “I feel like a king.” It made me very happy. We tell people: “This is your right. You need it, so take it. Don’t feel embarrassed.” Anybody who walks in and says they want to eat, we give to them. Nobody goes hungry here.

Benjamin Russell, 40.

Clapham Park food bank, London.

It was my partner, Liberty, who inspired me. When she became very poorly a few years back with lupus, she found herself having to use the food bank to get by.

Last year, she started to volunteer. I’m a scriptwriter and she said: “You’re spending so much time in the library. Why don’t you come and help?” My instinct was: that’s not for me. I’ve never done much charity work. I wasn’t sure what it would involve. But it’s quite something working down there. It really gives you a focus. Everyone digs in and does their best. It’s pretty heart-wrenching at times. You have to bite your lip and offer support. I’m not as good at that as the more experienced people.

Some people moan about the quality of the food. The biggest problem is that, because you can’t do fresh stuff, the quality isn’t great. Liberty is trying to get people to donate dried herbs and spices so they can be added to stews. But please, no tins of beans. We’ve got cupboards of them.

Kelli Kennedy, 24.

Oasis food bank, London.

For my MA, I researched food insecurity. I had no intention, when I came to the UK from California, to focus on that. But I read a lot of articles about food banks.

After my degree, I felt compelled to do something. On my first day, I sat with the food bank users while they waited for their parcels. People can request items – whether they prefer tea or coffee, are vegetarian or don’t have a stove. If you are in food poverty, you still have preferences.

I’ve been surprised by how open people are. Even if their stories are sad, it makes me feel more connected. When I talk to immigrants, it makes me conscious of the fact that, because of my visa, I am not eligible for benefits, either. I, too, would have to rely on my community. It’s only recently that I’ve felt London is the place I call home.

Lizzy Hall, 49.

The Hygiene Bank, nationwide.


I didn’t plan to set up the Hygiene Bank. In August, I sent a WhatsApp to some friends saying I was collecting toiletries for food banks. They shared it. I started getting messages saying: “I hear you’re collecting …” My partner has a shoe shop in Sevenoaks, Kent, so people dropped donations in. Then they said: “Have you got anywhere apart from the shoe shop? Have you got anywhere apart from Sevenoaks?” Four months on, we have 65 projects nationally and have provided 6.3 tonnes of essential toiletries.

On my first visit to a food bank, a woman walked in with two children in school uniform and said: ‘Ooh, shall we get a toothbrush?!’ For these things to be considered treats was unfathomable to me, but they can change the world for one person. Who can present their best self if they aren’t feeling good? It’s isolating, humiliating. These are the words I hear all the time. If we can remove this one symptom of poverty – hygiene poverty – people can integrate. They can go to school, go to that interview.

I met a woman who was living in a hostel with two children, getting food from a food bank. She had been married, had a home. Then her husband died unexpectedly – as did mine, seven years ago. Everything collapsed in my life, but my finances didn’t. I thought: “Imagine trying to deal with that on top of the grief.” I was left comfortable, which means I have time to do this. Part of me thinks my whole life has led me to this.

Jewel Ahumibe, 68.

Sparkhill food bank, Birmingham.


When the food bank started, my husband and I were invited to the opening. This is supposed to be a rich country. But I feel blessed to be able to help. I make sure the area is nice for the clients. You don’t rush, you let them take their time. I give them a hug. Some are crying. You say hello, introduce yourself, offer a drink. We say: have a look in the bag. If there is an item you don’t like, we will try to swap it.

You have to be ever so careful. We’re giving them pasta, but can they cook it? They might not have the money for electricity or gas. Maybe one of the group might bring along bread. A loaf of bread is a special thing. You haven’t got to cook it. You can just eat.

Yunus Khalifa, 30.

Anesis North Point church food bank, Coventry.

I volunteer with Penny Appeal, which organises biryanis for the food bank. We distribute about 150 of them. They are almost always gone.

I try to make sure we’re being joyful and put a smile on someone else’s face. You don’t talk to them like “a homeless person”, you just talk to them like a person. Sometimes I see people I’ve grown up with, gone to school with, and think how quickly life can change.

The church that organises it gives a little talk before they distribute the food. A little prayer in Jesus’s name. Faith is a part of it. Being a Muslim, I’ve got nothing against this; we follow Jesus as well as Muhammad.

My wife is from India. She came over here two years ago and had this image of England as having no poverty. When I expose her to stuff like this, it helps her to understand. You can’t do as much as you want to do, but even a small action gives back to a community. Spiritually, it helps me, it strengthens me.

Joyce Leggate, 66.

Kirkcaldy food bank, Fife.


I retired after 40 years in the NHS, working as a midwife with drug users and people who experienced deprivation. I could see the effects of not having money, not having a break in life.

A number of people I worked with during their pregnancy come to the food bank, so I get quite a lot of cuddles. Some of the babies are mums themselves now. The way I think is: if you can do something to help, why wouldn’t you?

Kirkcaldy is an area of high unemployment. There are a lot of second- and third-generation unemployed families. Last month, we issued nearly 1,000 food parcels. The public in Kirkcaldy is so generous.

Anything that is a bit different is appreciated. People are so grateful for jam. Just now, we are getting packets of shortbread. It’s humbling to be able to make somebody’s day that wee bit better.

Mike Scott, 54.

The Goodwin Pantry, Hull.

We call it a food pantry; the difference between us and a food bank is that we charge a fee of £3. There was a lot of consultation with single parents and people who are these days referred to as “the working poor” (which is not a phrase I like). We charge so that people feel they can maintain their dignity.

The pantry is based on the Great Thornton estate. It’s like a shop. We’ve got fresh items – leeks, mangoes, onions, tangerines. We’ve got ambient food, tinned food, frozen food. We’ve got people making friends. When we get to know attendees, we can dig a bit deeper, find out what the issues are and hopefully develop a wraparound project. Every few months, we have cooking demonstrations.

We’ve got about 170 members. We get new ones every week, which to my mind is very alarming, given the increasing numbers of millionaires. Many years ago, I worked for a private business and the boss was a millionaire. I worked my backside off for peanuts. I was 29 when I went to university to study social work. It just sits with my values. I enjoy my work immensely, but I’ve never seen it as bad as this in terms of the rank poverty.

Eileen Whitehorn, 71.

Wallingford emergency food bank, Oxfordshire.

This is an affluent area. I’m from the north and the first thing I noticed was all the BMWs and Audis here.

The senior school has what they call a links worker. One pupil had turned up at school and he hadn’t showered because he had no running hot water. The links worker knew I was attached to a church and asked if we could help, so we did a hamper for the family. Then I emailed the council to say that it was appalling that a mum was living in those conditions. Eventually, they got social housing.

A friend of mine and I were talking about it and we decided to start a food bank in Wallingford. That was eight years ago – she’s now our manager.

The universal credit [rollout] has been appalling. One guy was in hospital; he had had a stroke. He rang up and left a message to explain and they sanctioned him. It took nearly nine months to sort out. He had a young family. You can’t judge people till you know their circumstances.

I grew up near Halifax in a very poor home. My dad liked his drink. We didn’t eat. The three eldest worked, so they got fed. But the three youngest didn’t. Mum would send us to the shop to get food on credit. I’m not complaining. I’ve seen a lot of life. But I never expected in the 21st century that I would be working in a food bank.



The season of comfort and joy ?

For those needing food banks ... " What season ? "
Trussells are stepping up a gear :

Corporate partner to bring data expertise to UK foodbanks.


Global technology firm Cisco has announced it will work with The Trussell Trust, a charity with a network of hundreds of foodbanks, to help it use data more effectively against hunger and poverty.

Cisco UK and Ireland will help the charity to better understand and use its data in areas such as stock management and information-sharing, and will provide technical guidance on issues including data protection and cybersecurity. The Trussell Trust will also become an official charity partner of Cisco UK and Ireland, with employees – entitled to five days’ volunteering leave per year – encouraged to work with the charity.

News of the partnership comes as the Trussell Trust warns it is expecting its busiest Christmas period ever, and shortly after the UN drew attention to unacceptably high levels of poverty in the UK, calling conditions in the world’s fifth largest economy “a social calamity and an economic disaster”. Some 14 million people, a fifth of the population, live in poverty.

The Trussell Trust supports a network of 428 foodbanks, operating out of more than 1,200 centres throughout the UK. Its operations range from managing the logistics of collections and donations, to helping foodbank users get appropriate support so they don’t need to return.

The partnership began when Maria Hernandez, head of country digitisation at Cisco UK & Ireland, got in touch with the charity earlier this year, having read about rising demand. Trussell Trust foodbanks provided over 1.3 million three-day emergency food packages in 2017-2018, up 13% from the previous year.

Though unsure of what the charity needed, Hernandez felt that technology support could benefit in some way. Many of Cisco’s clients are “data-poor”, she said: “Everyone talks about the power of data but still they don’t use it as much as they could.”

The two organisations agreed areas where the technology company, which develops, manufactures and sells networking hardware and equipment, will offer assistance.

Cisco will help the charity network to create “a single view of all data related to their services, regardless of who generates it or what format it’s in”, said Hernandez. This will include data generated by the Trussell Trust itself as well as by other foodbanks (there are around 2,000 in total in the UK), plus broader poverty-related data, helping create a clearer picture of the underlying causes of poverty. Data will be made accessible to other charities working in the sector, Hernandez confirmed.

The firm will also look into automating links with food retailers whose surplus could boost foodbank stocks, and providing collaboration tools for the charity’s network of 40,000 volunteers so they can more easily share information with each and signpost visitors to other sources of assistance.

Cisco has not yet put a figure on the overall financial value of its support nor set quantitative targets for what it hopes to achieve. The partnership has initially been agreed for 12 months, but Hernandez suggested it would continue beyond this period, saying: “I don’t think we can solve everything in one year.”

While the current partnership involves only Cisco’s UK and Ireland office, Hernandez said there is significant interest from her colleagues overseas. Once the partnership has achieved “something tangible”, she said, the goal would be to share results with other Cisco offices so they can “copy and paste” the concept. Worldwide, demand also appears to be rising: foodbanks in the Global FoodBanking Network, which covers 31 countries, served 7.8m people in 2017, a 9% increase since the previous year.

In a statement Emma Revie, CEO at the Trussell Trust, said: “We expect that no one should be left hungry or destitute – however illness, disability, family breakdown or the loss of a job could happen to any of us, and we need to make sure sufficient support is in place when we need it most.

“We want to see a future where no one needs a foodbank because everyone has enough money coming in and is anchored from being swept into poverty by a crisis. We’re delighted to have the support of Cisco and the expertise, time and commitment of its employees to help us make a difference to people’s lives in the UK.”

Cisco has over 74,000 employees worldwide and reported revenue of US$49.3bn in the last financial year. As part of its social mission the company aims to positively impact one billion people by 2025.




A logical partner ... help with ensuring all resources are fully utilised.
NINE food banks and community kitchens now operating to feed Hartlepool’s hungry - town’s MP slams situation as " Blight on the Government and what they do. "

The explosion of food banks and community kitchens in Hartlepool has been described as a " Blight " on the Government by the town’s MP.

Nine charities and community projects have been formed in town since 2010 to help people who have fallen on hard times get enough to eat.

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill praised the people who run such projects.

But he said the fact they exist is a damning indictment on the Government.

Problems linked to the roll out of Universal Credit, which replaces a number of benefits, has been linked to people’s dependance on food charities.

A report on the national BBC news featured people who have experienced delays and sanctions attending Hartlepool’s St Aidan’s Church’s food kitchen which provides a meal to around 120 people every Thursday.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) defended Universal Credit and said people use food banks for many reasons.

Mr Hill said: “There are nine food banks in Hartlepool, all staffed by wonderful volunteers, but quite frankly they shouldn’t exist in the first place.

“It’s a blight on this Government that they do.

“The people you saw in the programme are not down and outs.

“They are decent people who have hit times of need.”

On Wednesday, Mr Hill told the House of Commons how Hartlepool Foodbank has given out more than 27,000 meals in the last 11 months.

He said: “That just shows the situation many people have found themselves in as a result of the pilot scheme with Universal Credit.”

Manager Abi Knowles said they see people who are working and on Universal Credit who are struggling as well as unemployed people including those who have made claims or are applying for the benefit.

She said: “Probably 99% of people we see have some issue somewhere along the line with Universal Credit.

“After deductions are made for things like previous hardship payments it is so low they are making the choice of eating or paying bills.”

Mr Hill said since the report aired his office has received offers of help from constituents for the people featured.

A DWP spokesperson said: “The reasons for people using food banks are complex, and it would be wrong to link a rise to any one cause.

“With Universal Credit people are moving into work faster and staying in work longer than under the old system.

“It provides additional, tailored support to help people move into work and stop claiming benefits altogether.

“No one should have to face hardship with Universal Credit and we have made 100% advances available from day one.”

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) defended Universal Credit and said people use food banks for many reasons.

New twist on traditional food banks offers Aberdeen residents a " Hand up instead of a hand out."

A new type of food bank designed to give those in need welcomed its very first shoppers in Aberdeen yesterday.


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The Woodside Pantry project is the first of its kind in Scotland, selling discounted products to residents struggling financially.

Instead of relying on pre-made food parcels, members of the scheme pay a £3 joining fee, and then £2.50 a week for 10 items they can select themselves.

Managers of the pantry, which is based at the Woodside Fountain Centre on Marquis Road, arrived yesterday morning to find a queue of people eager to try out the one-day trial of the scheme.

And it was such a success that the Woodside Pantry team is now preparing to officially launch the operation in the new year.


Claire Whyte, community worker at the project, said: “Everybody that’s been in has just been delighted, they’ve given really positive feedback and everyone in the local community seems to be talking about it.

“The £2.50 fee is more to give a level of equality and take away some of the stigma that surround food bank projects – the intention is for it to be more of a hand up instead of a hand out.

“We want everybody to be equal – we’re not asking too many questions, and we’re not checking benefits – but we make sure that we’re filtering out the people that are most in need.

“You come in with your £2.50, and you can pick any of 10 items, so it feels much more like a shopping experience.

“Picking out what you want is our key difference when compared to traditional food banks, where you’re often just given what you can get, and it can often not be to your tastes or dietary requirements.


“On our trial today, 10 items came out to be worth on average £30 to £40, so it can really help make a difference to people that need it.”

Following the yesterday’s test of the concept, the Woodside Pantry team will now assess how they want to move forward, before reopening on February 12, with an initial membership of 30 people.

If the project is successful, Ms Whyte said she hopes to expand it further in 2019.

The scheme will be operated by Fersands and Fountain Community Project in partnership with Cfine and FareShare.
UK's biggest foodbank will help " More than ever " over Christmas.


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The UK's largest foodbank has said it expects to provide meals for more people than ever over Christmas.

Newcastle's West End foodbank helps more than 46,000 people a year, more than any other in the country.

United Nations poverty envoy Philip Alston visited the site earlier this year as part of a fact-finding mission into austerity in Britain.

Volunteers said they expected to help more than 3,500 people during the month of December.


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Chief executive John McCorry said: "This time of year is extremely busy, but thankfully donations are picking up a bit.

"We've seen a lot of newcomers to the foodbank recently. Some of it is down to this particular area being involved in the introduction of Universal Credit, but we have also seen more asylum seekers and refugees. We have very diverse communities here.

"But if you're poor already it seems the system pushes you further into the margins.

"This time of year means there are so many commercial pressures on families that many on the edge need help to get through.

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During his visit to Newcastle Mr Alston said the government should not rely on organisations such as foodbanks "to keep people alive".

He said foodbanks provided a safety net so that people "don't quite starve". But he said it should be government that provided the safety net.

Mr McCorry added: "Most of those who need our help - about 85% - visit us five times or less. Most of the time it's relatively short-term help that people need to get through immediate problems.


"Universal Credit has caused problems because of the in-built waiting period for cash and the problems that raises with buying essentials like food and further issues with having to repay loans they are given by the government.

"We had one family here last week and the husband wouldn't even come in. He just stood outside the door. I suppose it was because of his dignity. It's a difficult thing to do to have to ask for help to feed your family."

The government said universal credit was "working for the vast majority of people".

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman added: "Universal Credit is a force for good, and everyone that visits a jobcentre from now on will be able to access a better, modern benefit with personalised support."

The foodbank opened in March 2013 and has two sites at the city's Church of the Venerable Bede and in Benwell Lane.

It hands out about 135 tonnes of food a year to an estimated 46,020 people - making it Britain's biggest based on those helped.

In November alone it issued parcels to 576 families with children, 279 couples and 325 single people.

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Mr McCorry said: "As people who come to us are referred by other agencies like Citizen Advice or the NHS, we are hopefully on course to be able to meet our needs over Christmas.

"But it's looking like we will be faced with having to help more people than we ever have before.

"We will be open on 24 December and then again from 27 December.

"One of our most important goals is ensuring that we still have enough food coming in during January and February when there is still demand but donations ease off.

"It's vital for us to encourage corporate sponsors to help us out.

"We've been very lucky on that front recently and we do need to capitalise on that."


A typical food parcel


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Tea or coffee
Sugar
Biscuits
Breakfast cereals
Soup
Pasta
Rice
Pasta sauce
Tinned beans
Tinned meat
Tinned vegetables
Tinned fruit

Source: The Trussell Trust



FOR FAR TOO MANY , A RETURN TO VICTORIAN TIMES.

Enjoy YOUR festive season !
The Muslim families donating to food banks for Christmas.

Muslim families across Liverpool have been donating food to people who would otherwise go hungry this Christmas.


Several Islamic organisations in the city, which was home to England's first mosque, have been collecting for food banks during the festive season.

At one collection point, the Happy Children Nursery in Wavertree, staff used donations to teach that charity is both a British and Islamic value.

"Hunger does not discriminate," nursery manager Saeeda Aslam said.

For the past five years, the nursery, where children learn Arabic, has collected food from Muslim families living in the city and who come from dozens of different countries.

Previously, this was donated to a local church, but this year it has been collected by the local Fans Supporting Foodbanks charity, run by supporters of the city's rival Premier League football teams, Liverpool and Everton.

Throughout December, the charity has collected more than ten tonnes of donations from around the city, including from the Abdullah Quillam mosque, founded in 1887.

According to the Trussell Trust charity, the number of people who rely on food banks for emergency supplies across the UK hit record levels last year.

" A massive difference "

Stephen Middleton, a Fans Supporting Foodbanks volunteer who picked up the nursery's donations, said he knew from personal experience what it was like to rely on a food bank.

"It makes a massive difference. There's a lot of people now hungry in this city," he said.

The food he collected will be handed out during the Christmas week, said Mr Middleton. Earlier in the day, the charity had picked up another donation from a Catholic school in Liverpool.

"It doesn't matter if you're white, Muslim, Christian, if you support Liverpool or Everton, we come together, and that's the thing about this city," he said.

Nicola Williams, who converted to Islam seven years ago and whose son is at the Happy Children Nursery, said she had seen an increasing number of people going hungry in Liverpool in recent years.

"For us, it's just about serving humanity and investing in our community. Giving back to the community. What we say as Muslims is if you've been given something, then you have to pass that something on," she said.
Ground zero ... Morse / LewisLand ... Oxfordshire ... very desirable area to reside in ... for some ???
Food banks in Oxfordshire reveal challenges of Christmas demand.

IN THE season of goodwill, the generosity of those who run Oxfordshire’s food banks is more important than ever.


Christmas is the busiest time of year for many food banks across the county, with armies of volunteers spending hours helping those in need.

Many charities have an influx of mouths to feed over the festive period, but they also receive a seasonal spike in donations, from schools, churches and businesses.

Sifting through the huge quantities of goods is a huge operation, but Sarah Fry, joint co-ordinator at Abingdon Food Bank, reveals it is all appreciated during the festive period.

She said: "It's a pinch point because winter comes and people have to pay for their heating.

"People want to buy presents for their children and they might do that instead of food."

Last December, Abingdon Food Bank, based at Christ Church on Northcourt Road, fed 196 people, compared to 159 12 months earlier.

Meanwhile, referrals, which are measured by the number of households given a voucher that can be exchanged for three days of food, increased from 67 to 80.

The organisation gives out Christmas hampers to local agencies, donating 175 last year.

The hectic festive period is also felt at Community Emergency Foodbank (CEF) Oxford, based at St Francis Church on Hollow Way on Tuesdays and Fridays and at Littlemore Baptist Church on Thursdays.

Last year, the charity fed 292 people in December compared with 214 the previous month and co-founder Jane Benyon admits it can be difficult to juggle competing demands.

She said: "Managing to give time to each individual when they come in for food is a challenge, when we are very busy distributing food.

"We believe that giving time to people at a stressful time in their lives is an important part of our work."

This is one of Abingdon Food Bank's key selling points, with volunteers always seeking to make users comfortable by offering a sit-down and a coffee while their box is made up.

The charity has seen a high turnover of people since it was founded in 2009, but Ms Fry says they often see familiar faces during the winter months.

She said: "We only see most people once or twice.

"We might be supporting someone for a period of six weeks or so while they wait for universal credit.

"Some families live hand-to-mouth and we see them if they have a crisis and then don't see them for a while."

Earlier this month, food banks in Didcot, Wantage and Wallingford joined Abingdon in singling out Universal Credit as one of the main factors behind an increasing demand for their services.

All but Didcot said need has risen by at least 20 per cent in the past year, compared with the previous 12 months.

The number of people using CEF Oxford has risen by 27 per cent since October 2017, which Ms Benyon also put down to Universal Credit.

The CEF co-founder stressed how grateful the organisation was to receive so many Christmas donations, but appealed for people's generosity to continue as the charity seeks to feed approximately 250 people every month.

She said: "Food donations are high at the moment but regular giving throughout the rest of the year is important.

"I believe that whatever the government provision there will always be people who fall through the gaps, so food banks are here to stay.

"However, the delays in Universal Credit and the complications of implementing it for many vulnerable people and the consequent tough sanctions imposed by the system is the reason many people are resorting to food banks."
LadBaby on why he is giving We Built This City money to Trussell Trust : " We came very close to needing food banks. "

LadBaby beat Ariana Grande to secure the Christmas number one.

The YouTube star who won the Christmas number one has explained the reason he is donating the proceeds from his single to food banks.

LadBaby, who scooped the top spot with We Built This City… On Sausage Rolls, a parody of the 1985 Starship song but with a sausage roll theme, told Good Morning Britain (GMB) that he had once been close to needing the help of food banks.

“Me and my wife, a couple of years ago, when we first had kids, came very closed to needing a food bank,” he said.

Money raised by single sales will be given to The Trussell Trust, which runs a network of 420 food banks across the UK. The trust also provides emergency food for people referred for support.
Tesco customers in Great Yarmouth donate 3,000 meals for food charities this Christmas.

The initiative ran in stores from November 29 to December 1.

Customers were asked to donate long-life items to help those in need as part of their usual shop.

The collections were donated to charities FareShare and The Trussell Trust.

Food donated to FareShare was distributed to charities and community groups.

They used it to provide meals for vulnerable groups such as isolated older people and those in homeless shelters.

Chief executive at FareShare, Lindsay Boswell thanked Tesco customers for their generosity.

“Thanks to the generosity of Tesco shoppers over the festive season, we have enough long-life food to provide meals to those helping people in need across the UK.

“The food donated at the Tesco Food Collection will make a tremendous difference to the thousands of charities and community groups,” he said.

Tesco has once again topped up the value of the customer donations by 20pc,

It provided the two charities with funding to run the food banks and distribute the food to those in need.

Chief executive of Tesco in the UK, Jason Tarry, said it had been taken aback by the generosity of customers.

He said: “I am proud that together with our customers and charity partners we are able to feed so many people in need this Christmas.

“We know this annual collection makes a real difference to the charities we work with and I would like to thank everyone who has donated.”

The items donated to food banks in The Trussell Trust’s network were given out in emergency food parcels to people referred because they could not afford to feed themselves and their families.

Chief executive at The Trussell Trust, Emma Revie thanked people for ‘stopping hunger this Christmas’.

“Our food bank network has spent the last month making sure that people referred to them with no money for food do not go hungry this Christmas,” she said.

North Denes Primary School in Great Yarmouth also set up a food bank for children’s families who could not afford to buy food.



If only efforts like this one were repeated nationwide ... week by week ... to cater for the increasing demand ... with the spectre of Universal Credit hovering over many more manors ?
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