10,000 emergency parcels and 79 tonnes of food in a year from our local foodbank

The Norwood and Brixton foodbank helped local people with 9,929 emergency three-day food parcels in the 12 months to the start of April this year.

Food donations to the foodbank from the community totalled 79 tonnes.

The foodbank welcomes offers of help with funding. Local businesses, organisations and individuals interested in supporting its work can find out more on its website.

Our local foodbank is part of a network co-ordinated by the Trussell Trust, a UK-wide charity. In all, the trust provided 1,583,668 emergency parcels between 1 April last year and 31 March this year. More than a third of these – 577,618 – went to children.

But this is only part of the national picture. The Trussell Trust network has 1,200 foodbank centres. There are at least another 805 independent centres.

The biggest reason for people using a foodbank, both locally and nationally, is the five-week delay before people get benefitswhen they are put onto the new universal credit system.

Norwood and Brixton foodbank
Norwood and Brixton foodbank

Clara is just one of the people to visit the Norwood and Brixton Foodbank recently. She had been waiting four weeks to receive universal credit.

“The JobCentre sent me to the food bank which was such a relief,” she said. “The food and toiletries I have received today are just enough to get me through another week.

“This has calmed my nerves. Who knows – maybe my benefits will have arrived by then.“

Universal credit is not the only benefit payment people experience problems with, but the issues faced by local people moving onto the new system are significant.

The food bank has needed to give emergency food and support to people who are waiting at least five-weeks for a first universal credit payment.

Norwood and Brixton foodbank volunteers
Norwood and Brixton foodbank volunteers

Jon Taylor, manager of the Brixton foodbank, said: “No one should need a foodbank’s help and we want to see an end to local people needing emergency food at all.

“It doesn’t have to be this way – our benefits system is supposed to protect us all from being swept into poverty. Universal credit should be part of the solution, but currently the five-week wait is leaving many without enough money to cover the basics.

“This isn’t right. Until we reach a future where food banks are no longer needed, we’ll continue to provide vital support when it matters most.

“We’re dedicated to ensuring that people in our community without enough money for food are able to access emergency support.

“Our vital work in the community has only been possible in the last year because of the incredible generosity shown by local people in donating food, time and funds. Thank you.”

Nationally, supplies distributed by foodbanks have risen by 73.4% in the five years since April 2014. The latest annual national increase was 18.8% – from 1,332,852 parcels to 1,583,668.

Locally, the increase was 1.8% – from 9,809 to 9,929 parcels. Some 3,863 of these parcels went to children over the past year.

But this comes on top of of a rise of 22% last year and one of 14% in 2017.

The Norwood and Brixton foodbank has been providing three days emergency food and support to local people since 2011. For more information, visit its website.

The Trussell Trust national website has more details of the national picture.

Norwood and Brixton foodbank volunteers
Norwood and Brixton foodbank volunteers

As well as providing emergency supplies, Trussell Trust foodbanks provide additional help on-site or point people to relevant local charities. They also bring together the experiences of hundreds of communities on the front line to challenge the structural issues that lock people in poverty, and campaign for long-term change for a future without the need for foodbanks.

The trust’s #5WeeksTooLong campaign is calling for an end to the five-week-plus wait for universal credit payments.

Chief executive Emma Revie said year-upon-year the trust was seeing more and more people struggling to eat because they simply cannot afford food.

“Enough is enough,” she said. “As a priority, we’re urging the government to end the wait for universal credit to ease the pressure on thousands of households.

“It’s unacceptable that anyone should have to use a foodbank in the first place. No charity can replace the dignity of having financial security.

“That’s why, in the long-term, we’re urging the government to ensure benefit payments reflect the true cost of living and work is secure, paying the real living wage.”