Between 1st April and 30th September 2017, 3506 three day emergency food supplies were provided to local people in crisis by Oldham Foodbank, compared to 2702 in 2015-16. Of this number, 1176 went to children. The foodbank, a member of The Trussell Trust’s network which has today reported an increase in UK foodbank use, believes the local increase is due to people struggling with continued issues with benefit payments and Universal Credit roll out in the area in addition to low wages and insecure work
In the months leading to Christmas a number of factors, such as cold weather and high energy bills, or foodbanks and referral agencies ensuring that people who are likely to hit crisis have food ahead of Christmas Day, mean The Trussell Trust’s foodbank network traditionally sees a spike in foodbank use. Oldham Foodbank is asking the community to help them prepare for their busiest time of year by donating food or money for us to buy food with; food can be given at our donation points in Tesco stores or directly to the Foodbank at The Three Crowns Centre, next to Oldham Bus Station. We also invite businesses to set up collection points which we are happy to come and collect.
Oldham Foodbank shares the concerns of other Trussell Trust foodbanks in full Universal Credit rollout areas about the issues people referred to the charity have experienced with the new system. The 6+ week waiting period for a first payment can contribute to debt, mental health issues and rent arrears. The effects of these can last even after people receive their Universal Credit payments, as bills and debts pile up. Oldham Foodbank is working hard to help prevent local people affected going hungry but is troubled by the extra pressure this puts on food donation stocks and volunteers’ capacity.
Andrew Barr, Foodbank Manager of Oldham Foodbank said:
“It’s really worrying that we are still seeing an increase in need for emergency food across Oldham. Every week people are referred to us after something unavoidable – like illness, a delayed benefit payment or an unexpected bill – means there’s no money for food. It’s only with local people’s help that we’re able to provide vital support when it matters most, and whilst we hope one day there’ll be no need for our work, until that day comes we’ll be working hard to help prevent people going hungry. 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!”
Mark Ward, Interim Chief Executive at The Trussell Trust, said:
“We’re seeing soaring demand at foodbanks across the UK. Our network is working hard to stop people going hungry but the simple truth is that even with the enormous generosity of our donors and volunteers, we’re concerned foodbanks could struggle to meet demand this winter if critical changes to benefit delivery aren’t made now. People cannot be left for weeks without any income, and when that income does come, it must keep pace with living costs – foodbanks cannot be relied upon to pick up the pieces. Without urgent action from policy-makers and even more generous practical support from the public, we don’t know how foodbanks are going to stop families and children going hungry this Christmas.”
The running costs for Oldham Foodbank are around £6,000 a year, all of which is raised locally to enable them to continue their work. Costs include a van to pick up donated food and deliver to distribution centres, and other overheads like utilities and insurances, no one at Oldham Foodbank is paid. The foodbank 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 www.oldham.foodbank.org.uk