A huge thank you to Gillian from Drilcorp for this guest post:
Every day people in the UK go hungry for reasons ranging from redundancy to receiving an unexpected bill. Being off sick, on a low income or becoming homeless. A simple box of food makes a big difference, with foodbanks helping prevent crime, housing loss, family breakdown and ental health problems.
There are around 16 known foodbanks in the North East operating across Sunderland, Hetton, Houghton, Washington, Dawdon and Murton. The Trussell Trust operates the food bank network and across the UK there are 428.
They provide emergency food and support to people in crisis across the North East. There are over 13 million people living below the poverty line and in the last year the Trussell Trust who operate the food bank network provided 1,332,952 three day emergency food supplies. In the North East this figure was 64,209.
Over a third of all food distributed by the foodbank network throughout the year goes to children, but there is extra financial pressure to provide main meals during the school holidays for families who rely on free school meals during term time.
The summer holidays can be a stressful time for parents, and for those on low incomes it can be particularly hard. Research from The All Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger found that the loss of free school meals can add between £30 and £40 per week, per child, to shopping bills during the holidays.
Year after year the network sees more children referred to foodbanks for emergency support during the holiday months of July and August than the two months before, and this trend cannot continue.
New National data has highlighted that the growing population and referrals to foodbanks is due to benefits not covering the costs of essentials. 26% of referrals came from low income referrals.
The rising cost of living also accounted for an increase of 9%. Increased utility bills, and costs of housing are driving an increase in people seeking help from foodbanks. The other main reasons are delays in benefits.
Drilcorp recently visited the foodbank in Hendon, Sunderland. We provided around £100 worth of essential food and toiletries and called into to drop off our donation. While there we met a group of young students who were volunteering as part of their National Citizenship Service. They told me that some of them didn’t even know the food back existed and that it was quite upsetting to think that families can’t afford the basic necessities to feed their children.
The team from Sunderland Cohort 4 spent the day taking in deliveries and then checking dates on each item to ensure they were safe to distribute. Once sorted they are all weighed and then put into separated crates and sorted by food group ready to be distributed to the various food banks.
The Sunderland foodbank is run mostly by volunteers and they are always on the lookout for more help. They rely on donations from individuals, companies and groups but struggle to distribute the goods and are looking for a van which can be used to help them get the food out quicker.
From donating food, volunteering your time or taking on an exciting fundraising challenge, there are lots of ways to get involved with raising awareness of poverty and helping stop UK hunger.