We are backing a campaign by The Trussell Trust to help the increasing number of people who rely on emergency food parcels. The Trussell Trust are a charity than run the UK’s largest network of food banks. Their recent research, conducted in conjunction with Heriot Watt University, estimates that 846,000 food parcels will be required during October to December this year – a staggering 61% increase on last year.
Much of this increase can be attributed to the impact of Covid-19. The research found that over 50% of people using a Trussell Trust food bank at the start of the pandemic had never needed one before.
We are supporting The Trussell Trust’s call on government to do something about this crisis by making changes to the current system. These changes include continuing the boost to Universal Credit given at the start of the pandemic; suspending government deductions to benefits payments; and investing £250 million in local welfare assistance.
The plan is to ensure no one gets left behind this winter.
Step by Step’s own experience of food insecurity mirrors The Trussell Trust’s findings. We have seen increased demand for food packages, not only as a result of covid-19, but before that as a result of the introduction of Universal Credit. The five-week wait for a first Universal Credit payment leaves many people exposed, particularly the young people who rely on Step by Step for crisis support.
Kate Martins, Support Worker for Step by Step’s Youth AIMS advice service, says: “Food parcels are a crucial part of our service. They bridge the gap between applying for Universal Credit and getting the first payment five weeks later. Being able to give out basic food helps alleviate the fear of going hungry during very worrying times.”
Step by Step has also received direct support from The Trussell Trust during the pandemic. “Trussell dropped off loads of food supplies to us during lockdown,” explains Kate. “They are so helpful and a pleasure to work with. They share our belief that access to food is a basic human right and that no one should go without, particularly during the hardest points of their lives.”
Step by Step’s Supported Lodgings service also saw increased demand for food parcels during lockdown. Many host families, who lend a room to a vulnerable young person, had to isolate or could not get the food they needed due to the shortages. Step by Step staff delivered emergency rations to hosts and young people in desperate need, often relying on Trussell Trust food banks to do this.
Although demand for emergency food supplies has reach unprecedented levels in recent months, it is clear that this is more than just a temporary spike. We believe it is unacceptable that so many people in this country rely on charity to prevent them from going hungry. That’s why Step by Step passionately supports The Trussell Trust’s call for change.
Find out more about the campaign at www.trusselltrust.org/heriot-watt-research-2020
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