Local people received emergency food supplies from the Brixton and Norwood foodbank nearly 8,000 times last year. That is more than 20 for every day of the year and 18% more than the amount supplied in 2015.
The foodbank says the increase is due to people struggling with low wages (20%), delays in receiving benefits they are entitled to, and having no recourse to public funds (19%).
While the scale of the problem is shocking, the local response is heartening. Manager Jon Taylor said that over the last year local people donated 61 tonnes of food to the Norwood and Brixton Foodbank and more than 200 have volunteered to help.
“Local schools, businesses and faith groups have provided vital support to the foodbank, enabling us to give three days’ nutritionally balanced food and support to people in crisis,”he said.
“Foodbank has been a life-saver,” said Hannah, a foodbank client. “I have been in this country for eight years and have had some good jobs in that time. At the moment, I am unemployed. I don’t have access to public funds, so supporting my family is really difficult right now. If the foodbank hadn’t been here, I think we would have starved. I am so grateful.”
As well as emergency food, the foodbank 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.
Many foodbanks run by the Trussell Trust, including the Norwood and Brixton Foodbank, join up with other agencies to provide additional services such as welfare and debt advice, and provide their own budgeting and cooking courses, helping people to break out of crisis.
Elizabeth Maytom, project lead at the foodbank said: “Anybody could find themselves in need of the foodbank.
“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. 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 who already donates time, food and money to help local people. If you’re not already involved, we’d love to hear from you.”
The foodbank welcomes offers of help. Local businesses, organisations and individuals interested in the foodbank’s work can find out more here.