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FOOD / Energy / Clothing BANKS : MORE A HUMANITARIAN THREAD ? 100,000+ Carers Reported As Needing Them In 2018 - Page 30 - 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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Featherstone mayor and councillor shave heads to help under-pressure food bank.

Two councillors have raised hundreds of pounds for their local food bank after having their heads shaved.


Featherstone member Graham Isherwood, and the town's mayor, Steve Vickers, had their locks cut off earlier this month.

Between £300 and £400 was generated, and that has already helped pay for supplies for Featherstone's Faith Net foodbank, which is run by a coalition of local churches.

Coun Isherwood explained his new look during a discussion about food bank provision across the Wakefield district at a scrutiny meeting on Monday.

He said: "We've all been involved in our local food banks, and that's why I've had my head shaved.

"We raised something like £300, and so we went out and bought £300 worth of food and handed it over to them. They really needed it."

Coun Vickers joked that he "didn't have much to lose" from taking part.

He said: "Normally we'd wait until the end of the year to hand out the mayor's charity money, but the reality is the food bank needs core items now.

"It's particularly important this time of year, because people are going away on holiday and the donations dry up.

"It is shocking in this day and age that we have food banks. It's like something from the Charles Dickens era. But we want to help however we can."

A working group has been set up by Wakefield Council to look at any links between the government's recent changes to Universal Credit and the rise in food bank use.

Councillor David Jones told the scrutiny meeting that food bank organisers were "doing a great job" under difficult circumstances because they were unable to predict demand.

He said: "They do not have a clue, whenever the open, who's going to walk through the door, what needs they will have and what pressures they'll be under.

"They just don't know from one day to the next how many people will come.

"In Pontefract last week, on Tuesday it was heaving, and on Thursday it was dead."
Ground zero ... Carlisle ... the usual mid winter away trip for supporters of southern teams ?

Publicity stunt or genuine ?

I'll give 'em the benefit of doubt 'ere.

Brampton Labour Party collects for food bank.

Brampton Labour Party collected items for Carlisle Food Bank from an appeal on Saturday.

Members of the group set-up a collection point outside of Brampton Surgery on Saturday morning as part of their monthly campaign.

They received a huge amount of donated food items ranging from cereals and juices to packet food and non-perishable tins.

Beth Furneaux, one of the volunteers, said: “The community rallied round and donated generously, having seen our appeal on Facebook and in the Brampton newsletter.

“They are particularly short of rice pudding, tins of fruit, tuna, beans for example.”

Summer time is a particularly difficult time of year for food banks as many families struggle to provide extra meals for children who are off schools for six weeks.

Beth said: “We decided to make it a food collection to involve the community, highlight the impact of austerity on local people, and help boost the stocks of the food bank at the start of the school holidays which sees an increased usage.”

Although this temporary appeal for the food bank led to a great collection, it was only a temporary collection point.

Bupa Dental Surgery has a permanent drop-off box in the reception. which is donated to Carlisle Food Bank.
Ground zero ... Maggie's old manor ... Grantham , Lincolnshire :

The heartbreaking stories of those struggling to get by using one of Lincolnshire's busiest food banks.

Food banks across the UK are bracing themselves for the busiest summer holidays ever.

A family man who was left with just £40 a month after losing his job and a woman who was forced to move into a mobile home when she could no longer afford her rent say they now rely on food banks to survive.

These are just two of the people struggling to get by we spoke to inside a Lincolnshire food bank.

Over a decade of austerity has seen the number of people living in poverty in the UK rise to 14.2 million.

The number of people using food banks has soared with over a million three-day emergency food supplies handed out across the country in 2018.

Food banks are now bracing for their busiest summer ever as parents struggle to keep food on the table throughout the holidays.

Lincolnshire Live spoke to those who have been forced to turn to a food bank in Grantham just to survive and they told us their stories.

A 27 year old mum was at the food bank with her two week old daughter.

She said: "The reason I'm here is because I haven't been receiving my maternity allowance. When I started my job, I hadn't been working long enough to be entitled to full maternity leave so I had to get an SNP1 form. My employers were really difficult about giving me one, and then the one i received wasn't stamped or signed correctly so I had to get a new one. In total I've received over four forms.

"I've been on maternity leave for three months and still haven't received any maternity pay. I've had to go onto Universal Credit, I get £560 a month for me and my baby, my rent is £430 a month, my gas and electric is £50. I'm literally left with £40 for me and my baby for the month.

"I'm getting help from my parents which I honestly don't know what I'd do without. I would literally be homeless if I didn't have their help. I was a hairdresser for 11 years, always worked and since I was made redundant last year I just haven't been able to get back on track. It's really hard to hold my emotions together but I'm getting there."

James, 44, was at the food bank with his daughter Ivy, 6, having recently lost his job as a tree surgeon and says Universal Credit has left him with just £40 to feed his family.

He said: "I lost my job and had to go to the job centre to sign on. They told me that it will be five weeks until I get my first payment which will be £40. That's to live on for the entire month for me, my missus and two kids. I owe them money from 20 years ago when for a loan I received of I think £500. So they're taking £172 from me, then I have council tax and rent to pay which leaves me with £40 for food. Because I haven't signed on in a long time, they've increased the payments to the maximum they can take from me.

"It's horrible for me, to know that I can't feed my kids. I feel degraded. I get my first payment on August 14 of £40 which will have to last a month. I'm going to have to take my kids to those places where they serve free hot meals to the homeless just for food. I don't want to take my kids down there but what choice have I got."

A 52 year old woman, who did not wish to be named, has been forced to leave her home and move into a caravan simply because she couldn't afford the payments.

She said: "I went from having a full time wage, still living hand to mouth but I managed, to nothing. I had an accident at work at Christmas so my working tax credits stopped and they put me on Universal Credit because I wasn't entitled to get sick pay from work. I didn't get any money in January because I received wages in December. From January to March I didn't receive any payment.

"Since then my debt has been spiralling. I'm on anti-depressants, to be honest I don't know how I haven't killed myself. I've had to leave my house because I couldn't afford the rent so I now live in a mobile home.

"I've recently got a part-time job so my wages have halved and my universal credit is a quarter of what I was on. In June when I started working I got £70 to help cover rent and living. It's just not enough, I'd honestly be better off if I didn't work.

"I've got diabetes and my blood sugar results have been bad, because I can't afford to eat three times a day. When my doctor asked me why my results were so bad and I told him, he didn't know what to say. I feel like I'd be better if I had kids, as a single person on universal credit, it's awful."

A 48 year old man and his 5 year old daughter were also at the food bank and says that he has struggled to keep food on the table since the start of the summer holidays.

He said: "I've been struggling with Universal Credit payments, it's just not enough for me to live on. It's really hard, you get £1,000 to live on each month and out of that comes your rent, bills and food for my kids. I'm left with nothing at the end of the month.

"I've used the food bank a few times but I don't really like coming if I don't have to. It's really a last resort but I've got no other choice. I've only recently started claiming universal credit because of ill health and had to stop working because I had problems with my back. I'm applying for driving jobs as it will be easier for me but it's been a struggle."

She said: "We've got into so many debts, and rent arrears since universal credit was rolled out. I've got a possession order on my house but social services are helping me with that so we'll see how it goes. It's just a horrible situation.

"You get less on universal credit, than you used to on benefits so I can see why people are forced to spend their rent on food and not pay their landlords. Going from being paid weekly to suddenly being paid monthly is hard. You're constantly having to dip into your rent money just to make ends meet, as soon as one bill is paid another comes through."

For the volunteers on the front line, dealing with the harsh realities faced by those who use the food bank daily can be tough.

Jenny, 71, has been volunteering at the Grantham food bank for over five years.

"I think there are more families using the food bank now than ever before," said Jenny.

"We see families facing hardship because relationships have broken down and, in most cases, it's dad who won't take responsibility. Sometimes we get youngsters who are down on their luck and have nowhere to live. Some people might only come once or twice, some might be regulars.

"The limit for use is meant to be three times in a six month period but we don't turn anybody away. For some people, it's not the case. One particular lady I told to come every week over the holidays, because she has no other choice.

"I feel like I could take everyone home with me, I honestly do. Especially the youngsters, that really hits me hard."

Volunteer Mike, 83, has been volunteering since the food bank opened in 2011.

"At the time I wrote to the government requesting that the food bank received special dispensations. From the six letters I sent, I got two replies. One of the replies, from a gentleman who shall remain nameless, said that food banks were a slur on the governments ability to look after people.

"Eight years later the government is relying on us because they fumbled the benefits system. They are relying on us to clean up the mess after they said we were surplus to requirements."

Twenty-year-old volunteer Amy is home from university over the summer and has been volunteering for three weeks, giving up her time to give back.

"I've seen a huge variety of people coming in and using the food bank," said Amy.

"There's not a typical client. When they tell you their story you can't believe how they've ended up here. And then there are those who have been coming here for a number of years and have just found themselves stuck in the system. It's really sad to see."

Brian Hanbury is the food bank project coordinator and says he only expected the project to run for a year or two when they first began in July 2011.

"Sadly the need for us has just gone exploded. Last year we saw an increase of 43% in child interventions. I thought we couldn't top that but this year we've seen an increase of 23 per cent on top of that," he said.

The Grantham food bank put together boxes from the array of donations stored within their warehouse unit. As well as fresh fruit and veg and food cupboard items, the food bank can provide pet food, personal hygiene products and baby products.

Rows of pre-packed food boxes line the shelves, with packages intended to feed single clients, as well as larger families. All boxes are designed by nutritionists to get the best out of long life food. Currently, they are giving out around 80 boxes a week.

Our service extends far beyond food. We work with those struggling with mental health, we work with the crisis mental health health team. We have restorative justice that works from here and we work with the police dealing with those who have committed need based theft.

"We have the Citizens Advice Bureau working from the food bank offering advice to people on benefits and housing issues. We really take on every single individual that walks through our doors."

"There is so much shame that comes through our doors. We try to keep the humour here. You can feel the pain. We're here to tell them that they aren't on their own," said Brian.

"We don't want to be here, we don't want there to be a need but while there is a need, we will be the ones to step up."

When asked for comment on the correlation between increased food bank use and Universal Credit, a DWP spokesperson said: "The reasons for people using food banks are complex.

“Universal Credit is a force for good, with 2.2 million people now being supported by the benefit. It gives people financial help if they’re unemployed, low-paid or unable to work. People can get their first payment on day one of their claim as an advance and we continue to make improvements.”

The food bank in numbers

In the UK, there are an estimated 13 million people living in poverty and 11.4% are children.

In Grantham, Lincolnshire there are currently three electoral wards that exceed the national average for child poverty. St John's has an estimated 18% of children living in poverty, Harrowby is twice the national average at 22% and Earlesfield has 30%.

Last year, the 86 volunteers at the Grantham food bank handed out over 39 tonnes of food. They supported 3,841 people and 1,254 local children.

It is estimated that around 3,000 people in Grantham are living on the poverty line.

The food bank currently give out around 80 food boxes a week.

Last year, the food bank gave out over 39 tonnes of food. 4.3 tonnes of food creates 5,000 meals.

Half a tonne of baked beans are currently being stored in the food bank warehouse .

Electrical manufacturers Currys and Grundig have just recently donated six electrical items including four freezers, one cooker and a dishwasher.

South Kesteven District Council have donated £3,000 to the food bank to help tackle the influx of child interventions they expect to see over the summer.

The Grantham food bank work with 42 front run agencies including churches, the Citizens Advice Bureau and the DWP who can all make food bank referrals. 50% of these referrals come from the DWP.
Ground zero ... Chichester , West Sussex ... another traditional blue rose manor :

Chichester food banks under pressure as demand rises.

Rising demand and few donations are putting pressure on vital services in Chichester.

Chichester's foodbank told of the need for more donations at a time that demand keeps improving.

Deputy project manager Rich Lush spoke about the failings of Universal Credit being a major contributing factor to the rise in demand.

Rich said the number of people using the food bank has increased 22 per cent from last year.

"There are a few different factors," he said, "Universal Credit has had a big impact because of the five week wait. Five weeks to get your first payment and until you have you can get a loan but often the loan would leave people out of pocket and you are creating a loan culture for people who are already in need.

"It's not the big enemy it just needs the government to recognise it has got problems."

The food bank has also described the urgent need for more donations during the summer months.

Urgently needed food items include tinned potatoes, pasta sauce, jam/spreads, tinned fruit, sponge puddings, fruit juice (not squash), tinned meat and teabags.

Rich added: "At Christmas we are humongously blessed with donations, but in the summer people go away and they go on holiday but the summer is the time that we need the most food.

"The need is often greater and it's when we have the least food.

"There are people who are coming in and it's just an added bonus to get them through the summer. There's a real need for this and Chichester has a very hidden poverty problem that we don't realise because everything is so expensive. Living is expensive. Most people are one paycheck away from being kicked out their houses if they are paying rent.


"The average rent in Chichester is ridiculous so when you add all that in. All of that plays into it as well."

While the branch is looking for more donations during the summer, Rich expressed his gratitude for the support from volunteers and other charities.

"Here we have an amazing team of volunteers who are absolutely fantastic and they will make people feel very welcome," he said.

Anyone wishing to donate food to the trust can do so at these locations:

• St John’s Hall, St John’s Street, Chichester, PO19 1UR

• County Hall, West Street, Chichester, PO19 1RQ

• Co-op locals (Stockbridge Road, Spitifield Road, Tangmere, Bognor Road, Petworth and Parklands)

• Waitrose, Via Ravenna, Chichester, PO19 1RD

• Chichester Cathedral – collection basket at back of Cathedral

• Tesco Extra, Rd E, Chichester, PO19 3JT

• Sainsbury’s, Westhampnett Road, Chichester, PO19 7YR
The Daily Chuckle has finally woken up ... comments section should be interesting ?

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/articl ... years.html

Inside the UK's food bank crisis - as the number of people using them goes up 73% in just five years.

Food banks were practically unheard of in the UK before the 2008 recession but there are now over 2,000.

Shockingly, many people who use them have jobs but are still struggling to make ends meet.

Nearly 90,000 food parcels were handed out to children who missed out on free school meals during last year's summer holidays.

The Trussell Trust, the UK's largest food bank network, fear that figure could rise even higher this summer.

Food banks were practically unheard of in the UK before the 2008 recession, but there are now more than 2,000.

By 2012, three new food banks were opening each week, such was the need for these services — and it shows no sign of slowing down.

The number of people using them has risen by 73 per cent in the last five years. Shockingly, many people using them have jobs, but are still struggling to make ends meet.

The Trussell Trust, the UK's largest food bank network, said it distributed 1.6 million emergency food parcels to 'people in crisis' in 2018 — a 19 per cent increase on the previous year. More than half a million of these went to children.

Here we look at why there is such a need for food banks in the UK, how they work, and how you can help.

Why are people using food banks ?

The biggest nationwide study on food banks by Oxford University found almost half of households had unsteady incomes week-to-week.

Nearly 80 per cent reported they had skipped meals or gone without eating —sometimes for days at a time — in the past 12 months.

Half were in fuel poverty and had gone without heating for more than four days in the past year, 50 per cent couldn't afford toiletries, and one in five had been forced to sleep rough.

Rising costs for food, rent and energy bills were also to blame, as were personal debts, with a fifth saying they owed money to payday lenders.

Delays in benefits coming through was another big factor, as there is now a five-week waiting list for Universal Credit. Although a fifth said they had to wait seven weeks or more.

This has been rejected by the Department for Work and Pensions, which says there is no delay for claimants.

Tackling holiday hunger

Worryingly, children are among the biggest victims of the current hunger crisis in the UK.

With no access to free school meals given out during term time, it is estimated that three million youngsters are at risk of going hungry during the summer holidays.

New figures released by the Trussell Trust revealed 87,496 food parcels were handed out to children last summer, an increase of 20 per cent — and there are fears this summer could be their busiest to date.

There are currently no statutory provisions in place to help families in need during this time.

Many charities run holiday clubs to provide food and activities for families who need it over the summer.

Last year a Holiday Provision Bill failed to pass through parliament, and despite the Government pledging £2 million for poorer families, campaigners say there is still a lot more to be done.


Emma Revie, chief executive of The Trussell Trust said: 'While it’s great to see schemes in place to tackle holiday hunger, food banks and other emergency food provision cannot, and must not, be a long term solution to poverty.

'If we are to end hunger in the UK... the Government needs to ensure benefit payments reflect the true cost of living and work is secure, paying the real Living Wage.

'Every family should have enough money coming in for a decent standard of living. No child should face going hungry in the UK.'

Who uses food banks ?

The majority of people using food banks are those who receive benefits or have experienced a benefits change, such as the swap over to Universal Credit.

Shockingly, around 320,000 of emergency food parcels are being issued to people in work, but are just not earning enough to make ends meet.

How do food banks work ?

Food banks partner with a wide range of care professionals such as doctors, teachers, health visitors and social workers, to identify 'people in crisis'.

They are given a voucher, which they can take to their local food bank centre to redeem three days of emergency food.

Services may vary from area to area, as food banks cater to the needs of their local community.

However, in recent years it is not just about the food. Centres now offer a range of services, from running holiday clubs for children, to cooking and budgeting courses, and psychotherapy sessions, to help keep people out of poverty.

What can you donate to food banks ?

Food banks need food that is non-perishable, tinned or dried, but they also need non-food items like toiletries.

Toilet paper, deodorant, shower gel, shampoo, soap and toothpaste are welcome, as are sanitary products and baby supplies, such as nappies and baby wipes.

Household items like laundry powder, detergent and washing up liquid are also essential non-food items they will accept.

They cannot accept anything homemade or items which are past their sell by date.

It is always best to check with your local food bank before donating to see what supplies they are currently most in need of.

You can make donations to food banks directly, or at schools, churches and supermarket collection points where they offer the service.

What is in a food parce l?

The Trussell Trust have worked with nutritionists to put together a food parcel which should make at least three days of healthy balanced meals.

A typical three-day parcel contains:

Tinned tomatoes/pasta sauce
Tinned meat
Lentils, beans and pulses
Tinned vegetables
UHT milk
Fruit juice
Tinned fruit


Where are the UK's largest food banks ?

The largest food bank in the UK is in Newcastle's West End, which hands out an estimated 135 tonnes of food a year to more than 46,000 people.

A regional breakdown shows the North West gave out the highest number of emergency food parcels in England in the past year, distributing 222,722.

This was followed by 156,081 in the East of England, 148,640 in the South East and 142,234 in the West Midlands.

What can you do to help ?

Making a donation to your local food bank is the easiest way to help. Find out where yours is here.

You can also donate money to The Trussell Trust or join 40,000 other people in becoming a volunteer at one of their food banks.

If your area needs one you could even start a food bank of your own.

You can also donate to charities like Feeding Britain, who run clubs for children over the summer holidays, and FareShare, which redistributes food to charities to turn into meals.
Ground zero ... Walsall , West Midlands :

Numbers seeking help from Walsall food bank doubles.

The number of people seeking help from a Walsall food bank has more than doubled in a year.

And now a volunteer has spoken out about the "significant crisis" as the food bank in Ablewell Street prepares for one of its busiest periods of the year.

In 2017 just under 900 claims were made at the food bank and by the end of last year the figure had almost doubled to just under 2,000.

And each claim can be for one person or a whole family.

Volunteer Andy Summers said that over the summer holidays the food bank sees an increase of 15 or 20 per cent in demand.

He said: "It's our biggest, steepest increase until we get to the winter months.

"What I can see is that families are more challenged during this period and the uptake of food banks has increased at the moment.

"It's clearly an issue that's being evidenced on a wider scale.


"These families often just have one worker who is on such low pay and they finally crack and have to come to a food bank.

"It's quite a heart-wrenching thing to observe as we hand over basic provisions.

"I've seen it with my own eyes - I've seen the eyes of the claimants. I've seen the defeat and despair - I've seen the shame that many feel reduced to this voucher existence.

"I've heard them mutter apologies and thanks as they struggle out of our building with a few bags of basics.

"I've seen their numbers grow and Walsall's crisis deepen.

"There's always an increase, we stack shelves and they're empty again week-on-week.

"This is a significant crisis.

"We're always appealing for more donations, it's absolutely crucial that people continue to contribute, we need all the help we can get."

Mr Summers is calling on Walsall Council to follow Wolverhampton Council and provide an advice help line for those with Universal Credit.

"We got 200 signatures in a couple of hours last week in Walsall asking the council to do something to get these people help," he added.

Current shortages at the food bank include tinned meat, tinned fruit, tinned puddings, cooking sauces, jam, shower gel, shampoo, UHT milk and fruit juice.

For more information visit ablewelladvice.org.uk or call 01922 639700.

Walsall Council has been approached to comment.
Ground zero ... High Wycombe , Berkshire ... where the poppies grow so pretty ( Thanks Traffic ! ) :

One Can Trust food bank " Overwhelmed " with emergency donations for hungry families.


The One Can Trust Food Bank in Wycombe has received many food items for their Summer Hunger Campaign as demands for food banks are often high in the summer holidays when children don’t get school lunches.

The Hunger Countdown was started last year by the Second Bottom Marlow Brownies, to encourage children to collect for the food bank in a way which meant they could also get excited for the summer holidays.

The campaign last year was so successful the food bank was filled until Autumn, with this year looking even more promising.

Great Marlow School and Burford School donated more than 1600 food items each. Pine Class donated 273 items and were awarded the ‘Burford’ cup, awarded by the head teacher to the most generous class.

Spinfield, Danesfield, Foxes Piece, St Peters, Frieth, Radnage and Marlow Church of England Infant school also donated to the food bank.

The Second Marlow Bottom Brownies continued to promote their Summer Hunger Countdown Calendar. They spoke on Wycombe Sound and Marlow FM, aswell as going on stage infront of more than 2000 people at the rock bottom festival.

Brownie Zoe Lewis said: “spreading the word felt really good and it's great to know that people are listening.”

Intel High Wycombe provided volunteers to pick up the food and printed hundred’s of copies of the brownies countdown calendar.

Manager Mark Lewis said: “It is wonderful to be able to give something back to the local community”.
Ground zero ... Glasgow ... and an s.o.s. goes out to Aldi :

Councillors urge Aldi to donate to foodbanks.

Aldi on Paisley Road West is one of hundreds across the country which got rid of its donation trolley after people kept stealing from it.

Two Cardonald councillors have issued a plea to their local supermarket to begin collecting again for the two foodbanks in the area.

Aldi on Paisley Road West is one of hundreds across the country which got rid of its donation trolley after people kept stealing from it.

The store donates to Crookston Community Group, in Pollok, but councillors Elaine McSporran and Alex Wilson wanted to see more food distributed to those in need in their ward.

They met with the store manager to discuss steps that could be taken to prevent food from being stolen, should a donation facility be re-instated in the shop.

Councillor McSporran said: “We don’t have a problem with Aldi donating to Crookston Community Group but we would like to see the two foodbanks in our ward benefit from these free food supplies.

“Ideally there should be an equal spread of food donations between the foodbanks at Mosspark Baptist Church and Hillington Park Parish Church as well as the community group.”

Following a discussion with the store manager, Aldi has agreed to install a cage at the front of the shop, which will be more secure than a trolley and prevent people from stealing from it.

Ms McSporran went on: “The manager has now agreed to collect for their local food bank if they are provided with a secure cage to prevent people from stealing from them.”

With children returning to school this week, the councillors hope more people will be able to donate more clothes particularly school uniform.

Councillor Alex Wilson added: “More and more people in our ward are turning to the foodbank. It’s not just food people need, they need clothes as well.

“We would encourage shoppers to donate food and clothes especially with the kids going back to school this week.”

A spokeswoman for Aldi has confirmed that the store is donating to Crookston Community Group as part of a nationwide project but a foodbank collection would require a separate drop-off point in store.

It is up to the individual stores to arrange foodbank arrangements. The manager of Aldi was unavailable for comment.
Every day we see really hungry kids. They shouldn’t be living like this.

In England’s poorest areas, summer holiday hunger schemes are being starved of cash, leaving many children short of food.

Thirteen children gather eagerly around a pile of brown paper bags crammed with sandwiches, yoghurts and fruit in a youth centre on the deprived north-west fringes of Bristol. This holiday club on the sprawling Lawrence Weston estate is being supplied with free lunches as part of a charity-funded push to help low-income families cope with the extra costs of feeding children over the six-week school break.

NHS healthcare assistant Sandra Thomas watches two of her four children, who have just finished a two-hour archery and gymnastics session, tuck into their lunch. She has been to almost all the free activities on the estate so far this summer and is grateful food is provided. “I would struggle by the end of week if I had to buy their lunches. Sometimes we can’t afford to get bread – we’ve really got to budget over the holidays,” she says. “It is quite stressful.” Thomas, 40, works weekends while her husband, who is a construction engineer, works Monday to Friday. “The kids are not on free school meals because me and my husband work, but financially we do struggle,” she says.

Jane Watson, 45, whose two children are entitled to free school meals, also finds it hard over the school holidays. “Obviously, you are spending more money. They are like, ‘can you buy this, can you buy that’ in the shops,” she says, as her nine-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son delve into their bags. “This helps make ends meet. It’s not so bad for me because my husband works, but there are a lot of one-parent families that struggle.”

None of this surprises community worker Donna Sealey. She regularly gives leftover lunches to desperate families at the end of sessions. “We see really hungry kids. Yesterday the lunch was delayed and kids were complaining because they had not had any breakfast. The kids are also eating more than one lunch – typically a quarter of them will ask if we have anything else,” she says. “This isn’t a third world country, nobody should be living like this.”

Across the whole city, nearly 11,000 children on free school meals during term time are thought to be at risk of holiday hunger, according to local charity Feeding Bristol. And it is a problem that appears to be getting worse. North Bristol’s five Trussell Trust food banks have seen a steep rise in the number of children they supply with emergency food over the summer, from 68 children in the first three weeks of the school holidays last year to 118 children in the same period this year – an increase of 73%.

Yet Bristol is just one of many areas denied central government funding for holiday schemes to provide free meals to some of the country’s most deprived children. Under pressure from charities and MPs concerned about rising numbers of parents using food banks outside of term time, the government announced last year it would fund a series of pilot projects through its holiday activities and food programme to ensure disadvantaged children receive a healthy diet during school holidays.

But the majority of funding bids from the most deprived areas in England were rejected, according to data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the Guardian and Channel 4 News. The findings show that 88% of bids – 81 projects covering 64 English local authority areas – were unsuccessful, despite the fact that just under one-third of rejected bids were in areas with the highest rates of child poverty, including Tower Hamlets – where 33.6% of pupils are on free school meals, more than anywhere else in England – Hackney and Blackpool, where, respectively, 27.7% and 25.5% of pupils are on free school meals. Overall, there are nearly 500,000 children at risk of holiday hunger this summer across the rejected local authority areas, the findings show.

The figures underline the sharp growth in child poverty: the latest analysis shows that 4.1 million children are living below the breadline.

Yet prevalence of child poverty doesn’t seem to have influenced the government’s funding decisions for food programmes. Of the 11 successful bids, four were in areas with relatively small proportions of children on free school meals: bids from Hampshire and Leicestershire were successful even though they fall within the lowest quartile of pupils on free school meals in England.

The mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, says the London borough has had to scale back its plans for the summer. “The funding would have allowed us to have a pretty comprehensive arrangement, giving kids a healthy breakfast and healthy lunch,” he says. “We are putting on some clubs ourselves. But it is pretty meagre compared to the resources we would have had – we are spending in the region of £90,000 rather than the £1.2m we were looking for.”

He adds it’s hard to understand why an area where more than half of children grow up in poverty has been passed over. “We have the highest rate of child poverty of any local authority in the country,” he says. “It is outrageous that the bid was rejected.”

In Blackpool, the council has only been able to find just under £120,000 for its own holiday hunger clubs. Kathryn Benson, cabinet member for schools, says the decision was disappointing as it is the most deprived council in the country. “The long summer break can hit families particularly hard as they need to budget for two additional meals a day alongside the additional expense of keeping their children entertained,” she says.

Hackney’s £500,000 bid would have fed 2,700 children across the borough. Instead, the council is relying on an unfunded charity which distributes surplus donations from supermarkets to four youth centres. “We are doing everything we can to support our most vulnerable families. But we know that more needs to be done. That is why it is particularly disappointing that central government has failed to provide this vital funding for Hackney, at a time when our residents and families need it most,” says Chris Kennedy, the borough’s cabinet member for families.

Manchester, which also lost out, has managed to fund some free meals at holiday clubs. Luthfur Rahman, cabinet member for culture and leisure, says holiday hunger is a growing problem in the city. “Many organisations have come together in Manchester, including the voluntary sector and schools to fill the gap,” he says. “However, this is a sticking plaster at best.”

Even among the successful councils that have been able to expand their holiday provision to reach more children at risk, some feel the government’s programme does not get to the root of the problem. The deputy leader of Gateshead council, Catherine Donovan, says: “If the government is really serious about tackling this issue and looking after the children of Gateshead, they should give parents the dignity of secure work and a benefits system that truly supports those in need.”

The Department for Education says this year’s pilot will inform the government approach: “This year we invested £9m in summer holiday clubs, providing activities and hot meals for disadvantaged children. This pilot will help show how we coordinate free provision in different areas, and help us decide how best to intervene in the future.”

But the children’s commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, says this isn’t quick enough and wants all schools in poor areas to provide activities and nourishing food over the holidays. “This issue is not new, and while we understand that the government needs to find the best ways of delivering with public funds, they are late tackling this issue. The human cost of just running pilots in a small number of areas to ‘work out what works best’ is, sadly, too many other children going hungry,” she says.

Back in Bristol, Feeding Bristol has had to drastically cut back the 100,000 meals it was planning to deliver. “We have the highest number of children claiming free school meals in the south-west,” says Andy Street, Feeding Bristol chair. “If we had got the funding, there is no question we would have fed significantly more children. There are a good number of children we are not able to help this year.”

The charity had to organise a last-ditch appeal in May. It managed to raise £125,000 and with the help of 450 unpaid volunteers is delivering 55,000 meals to existing clubs in Bristol. While Street is incredibly proud of the city’s response, he admits relying on donations from businesses and volunteers’ time is not a long-term solution. “We shouldn’t need to do this – we need to get to a place where every family has access to good-quality food,” he says.

Case study : " If it wasn’t for the food bank, these two would be eating pretty much nothing "

Part-time school cook Katie Harris gently strokes the dark hair of her fidgeting two-year-old boy while she waits patiently with her nine-year-old daughter for an emergency food parcel in a church hall in Horfield, north Bristol.

“I mostly dread the school holidays coming around,” she says, retrieving a sandal her son has launched across the room in frustration. “They get fed in school for free but when they are at home you have got to pay for everything.”

Harris earns around £500 a month from her job, working less than 16 hours a week in one of the city’s private schools. But with her first universal credit payment pending and a child typically costing an extra £30-40 a week to feed over the holidays she has been forced to use her local food bank.

“If it wasn’t for this food bank these two would be eating pretty much nothing. It is quite shocking,” she says quietly. “It shouldn’t be like this in this day and age.”

Harris finds the supermarket shop very difficult. “I have to put some stuff back when I’m shopping,” she says. “I can’t get any luxuries for myself like a pack of those biscuits,” she says gesturing towards a selection box provided by the food bank. “They would be a luxury.”

One of the food bank volunteers brings five carrier bags full of pasta, tins of soup and cartons of long-life milk. “I’m managing but without places like this it wouldn’t be possible,” she says while loading up her son’s buggy. “There are times when it is me or the kids that get fed. You got to put the kids first so I’ve gone to bed hungry.”
A somewhat unique post ... a Government agency !

Highways England weighs in with one tonne donation for food banks

Food banks helping families in crisis over the school holidays have been given more than a tonne of food and other items by teams working on Highways England schemes.


Almost 1,000kg of items was collected by the teams taking care of motorways and main A roads across the East Midlands, while workers carrying out the widening of the A500 in Staffordshire delivered 37kg of goods to help people in need and are continuing to collect.

From tinned goods to pasta and rice, to tea bags and toilet rolls, a shopping list of foods desperately needed by food banks for the emergency parcels was collected.

The donations came as the Trussell Trust, the UK’s largest food bank provider, revealed a 20 per cent increase in the number of food parcels going to children over the summer holidays last year.

Recent figures from the trust showed that 87,496 food parcels went to children in the UK during the summer break in 2018, 20 per cent up on the same period in 2017.

And the Trussell Trust expects demand this year to be as high as families who are entitled to free school meals during term time feel the extra financial pressure over the summer break.

To help those in local communities who risk going hungry this summer, staff from Highways England and the East Midlands Asset Delivery (EMAD) partnership organised collections at offices across the region - covering Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire.

The huge collection weighing almost one tonne included 156 tins of baked beans, 170 tins of tuna, 90 bags of pasta, 139 jars of cooking sauces, 155 tins of vegetables, 40 boxes of tea bags, 79 toilet rolls and over 300 nappies. The collections were divided up to go to three food banks in the region.

Highways England Assistant Contract Collaboration Manager Nicola Tomlinson said:

This fantastic contribution from all of our suppliers really does take working collaboratively to the next level. I’m astounded by the generosity of the workforces and hope our donation will make a big difference to families in communities across our region.

Kay Fleming, Framework Manager for nmcn, said:

I’ve never seen so many tins of beans and I used to work in a shop! I’m so proud of the East Midlands’ Customer and People team who promoted this worthwhile cause.

Meanwhile in Staffordshire, members of the Highways England and Osborne A500 Etruria Widening Team recently dropped off a delivery of food to the Stoke-on-Trent Foodbank, part of the Trussell Trust network.


The A500 is being widened from two to three lanes in both directions between Porthill (A5271) and Wolstanton (A527) as part of a £17.5 million upgrade.

A collection box has been set up at the site office for food donations and the first delivery was made just before the schools broke up for summer. Collections will now continue over the duration of the scheme, due to finish autumn 2020.

Kimberley Wild, Osborne Performance Manager, said:

" We continue to try to find opportunities to engage and help local communities where possible, particularly when we are effectively part of the community for a period of time, through our work. We hope that the food bank will be successful and help support the community. "

Nigel Webster, from the Bulwell and Bestwood Foodbank in Nottingham, thanked EMAD for their donation and told how stocks were running low this time of year while Gareth Duffield, the Trussell Trust’s Area Manager for Birmingham and Northern Counties, added:

" We’re so glad food banks in our network could benefit from the collection organised by Highways England to help support people facing crisis. We have seen a record demand in food bank use in the past decade, with more and more people struggling to afford the basics. This isn’t right. "

" We’re continually blown away by people’s support to provide emergency help, and ultimately work towards a future without hunger and poverty. "

General enquiries

Members of the public should contact the Highways England customer contact centre on 0300 123 5000.

Media enquiries

Journalists should contact the Highways England press office on 0844 693 1448 and use the menu to speak to the most appropriate press officer.
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