Benefit problems, low pay and debt send almost a thousand people to one Brighton food bank

Posted On 25 Apr 2017 at 9:27 pm

Benefit problems, low pay and debt were the main reasons given by almost a thousand people who sought help from just one Brighton food bank over the past year, new figures show.

The Whitehawk Food Bank said today (Tuesday 25 April) that “946 local people received emergency food supplies from the Whitehawk Food Bank in the last year”. The figures include 366 children.

They were classed as “in crisis” and given “three-day emergency food supplies”.

The numbers were up compared with 836 people in the previous year and were published as the Trussell Trust food bank network indicated that, nationally, figures were “still not decreasing”.

The Whitehawk Food Bank said: “Over 940 three-day emergency food supplies were provided to local people in crisis by the Whitehawk Food Bank during 2016-17, compared to 836 in 2015-16. Of this number, 366 went to children.

“The top three reasons for foodbank referral were benefit changes and delays 29 per cent, low income 25 per cent and debt at nearly 10 per cent.

“During the last year, local people have donated over 6.5 tonnes of food to the Whitehawk Food Bank. Local schools, businesses and faith groups have provided vital support to the food bank, enabling us to give three days’ nutritionally balanced food and support to people in crisis.

“As well as providing emergency food, the Whitehawk Food Bank provides essentials like washing powder, nappies and sanitary products to families who are struggling, as well as signposting them to other services in the local area.

“Our ‘monthlies’ scheme, funded through the Homity Trust, has been cited in the national press as one of the few schemes helping the increasing number of women who are suffering from period poverty.

“Many Trussell Trust food banks, including the Whitehawk Food Bank, are partnering with other agencies to provide additional services such as welfare advice, budgeting help and debt support at the food bank itself, helping people to break out of crisis.

“The food bank has a presence from Money Advice Plus, CAP for debt advice and BHESCO for advice on energy tariffs. Befrienders are also able to signpost to other support agencies across the city.”

Whitehawk Food Bank manager Doug Curties said: “Anybody could find themselves in need of the food bank.

“Every week people are referred to us after being hit by something unavoidable – such as illness, a delay in a benefit payment or an unexpected bill – meaning food is simply unaffordable.

“It really is only with the community’s support that we’re able to provide vital emergency help when it matters most and we hope that one day there will be no need for us in Whitehawk.

“But until that day comes, we will continue to offer the best possible service to help local people facing a crisis.

“Thank you so much to everyone in Whitehawk and the larger Brighton and Hove area who already donates time, food and money to help local people.

“If you’re not already involved, we’d love to hear from you.”

Despite generous donations of food, there are many hidden costs involved in running the food bank.

The foodbank welcomes any new offers of help with funding – local businesses, organisations and individuals interested in supporting the food bank’s work can find out more at here.

The Whitehawk Food Bank is run jointly by the Church of Christ the King (CCK), St Peter’s Church, Brighton, and St Cuthman’s Church, Whitehawk.

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