A housing association has stepped in to help support people in financial crisis across the region by donating £36,000 to the UK’s biggest food bank network.
The Trussell Trust, which support around 25 food banks across the South West, saw an increase of 42% in the number of parcels given out during the first six months of the pandemic.
The demand for food banks was thrown into sharp focus when it emerged that the Trussell Trust had given out 99,875 parcels across the South West between the beginning of April and the end of September, compared to 70,337 for the same period in 2019. The Trussell Trust has also reported a 49% increase in the number of children supported by emergency food.
Emma Greenwood, Trussell Trust Area Manager for the South West, said: “These statistics are just the tip of the iceberg, as we know that food banks in the Trussell Trust network only represent a proportion of the total food aid support out there with independent food banks, charities and community groups all doing their bit to help.
“The generosity of individuals and organisations has been overwhelming and the financial contribution from LiveWest will make a huge difference to people’s lives. Our food banks can’t do what they do without these incredible donations.
“The support of LiveWest means we can remain agile to respond to the fast-changing situation and ensure food banks continue to provide the lifeline of emergency food and additional support for people in crisis.
“There was a concern that, at some point, there would be generosity fatigue but that hasn’t happened. There is a real sense that everyone has their part to play in this, and there is a universal recognition that no one should be going hungry.
“It’s never been more important for individuals, businesses and organisations to come together to both respond to the immediate needs of their communities, but also turn their attention to working together to build a future where emergency food isn’t needed because everyone has enough money to pay for the essentials in life.”
The Trussell Trust is concerned its network will continue to see unusually high levels of need over the coming months because of ongoing job losses and economic hardship.
This could spark an increase of people being swept into poverty and experiencing food insecurity.
Emma added: “In terms of the future, we know that the economic impact of the pandemic has only just begun to be felt. Nearly a year into the pandemic in the UK and the numbers of people on Universal Credit continue to climb, and we can expect that many of the job losses that result from the pandemic are still to come. Levels of financial hardship look set to be sustained, with the rate of unemployment not expected to return to pre-pandemic rates until 2024.
“The way food banks have been able to respond to this unprecedented level of demand and uncertain future highlights the amazing efforts of volunteer teams across the South West. The hope is that people continue to work in partnership towards a future where food insecurity doesn’t exist.”
LiveWest has also donated £12,000 to 12 independent food banks across the region as part of its support for groups and organisations rallying to help the most vulnerable in society.
The independent food banks were selected in areas where LiveWest has the highest number of its homes and where demand for food banks was at its highest.
Gia Hancock, Tenancy Sustainment Manager for LiveWest, said: “As we fight as a nation against coronavirus, we were delighted to allocate some funding to the Trussell Trust who do a magnificent job supporting their network of food banks.
“The welfare of our customers is our absolute priority and this will go some way to ensuring the most vulnerable are able to access food and other essentials.
“This will add to the fantastic work that is already going on out there, as people do brilliant things to support their communities.”
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