Between 1st April 2017 and 31st March 2018, 5218 three day emergency food supplies were provided to local people in crisis by WandsworthFoodbank, compared to 4712 in the previous year (an 11% increase). Of this number, 1897 went to children (36%).
The foodbank, a member of The Trussell Trust’s network which has today reported a UK-wide increase foodbank use, believes the local increase is due to people struggling with continued issues with benefit payments, including the impact of the recent roll-out of Universal Credit; insecure and low-paid work; and the difficulty in accessing local government support (ie Discretionay Social Fund) when financial crisis relates to benefit problems.
Wandsworth Foodbank shares the concerns of other foodbanks in full Universal Credit rollout areas, highlighted today by The Trussell Trust in a new report about the difficulties some people are experiencing. The foodbank has provided emergency food and support to people needing help due to: the adverse impact of the initial wait for first payment of Universal Credit, the lack of available statutory support to help people apply and successfully maintain their claim, the inability of Universal Credit payments to cover the cost of living, and poor administration.
As part of a national network campaigning for change, Wandsworth Foodbank is working hard to offer practical emergency support to help prevent people affected going hungry, whilst simultaneously participating in vital research and raising awareness about the issues local people are facing.
Wandsworth Foodbank, with Citizens Advice Wandsworth, South West London Law Centres and the Katherine Low Settlement, is calling for Wandsworth Council to deliver high-quality, ongoing support for people claiming Universal Credit locally. The four charities have started a Universal Credit support campaign, including an online petition and are encouraging local people to sign it to show their support.
Additionally, Wandsworth Foodbank will launch its fifth annual food poverty report on 24 May, looking at why local people needed to use the foodbank in 2017-18.
Dan Frith, Foodbank Manager of Wandsworth Foodbank said:
“We don’t want to be here forever. No one in Wandsworth Borough should need a foodbank’s help and we want to see an end to local people needing emergency food. It doesn’t have to be this way – with a benefits system that catches people before they fall into crisis, and secure work that provides people with enough money to cover the cost of essentials, this is possible. But until that time, we’ll continue to provide vital support when it matters most – we’re dedicated to ensuring that people in our community with no money for food are able to access emergency support, and longer-term advice from our Foodbank Advice Project with Citizens Advice Wandsworth. We are incredibly grateful to all our volunteers at our five foodbank centres in churches across the Borough, to the community of Wandsworth and for the incredible generosity shown by local people in donating food, time and funds. Thank you.”
Wandsworth Foodbank does not receive any local or national government funding as it works to help local people. Therefore it welcomes any new offers of help with funding – local businesses, organisations and individuals interested in supporting the foodbank’s work can find out more at wandsworth.foodbank.org.uk/give-help/donate