Demand for foodbanks continues to soar - and expected to get worse

Demand for emergency food parcels in Fylde is still climbing , according to new figures – and a leading local official has forecast the situation will get worse.

By Tony Durkin
Friday, 29th April 2022, 3:05 pm
Updated Sunday, 1st May 2022, 6:21 pm

The Trussell Trust, a charity tackling poverty in the UK, supports the country’s largest network of food banks, including Fylde Foodbank, which operates centres at St Annes, Kirkham and Warton.

Over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, the Trust saw a dramatic increase in the number of emergency food parcels handed out to those in need nationally.

Latest figures from the charity show 4,165 emergency food parcels were handed out to people in Fylde in the year to March – an increase from 3,626 distributed in the year to March 2021.

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Project manager Linda Salkeld at Fylde Foodbank in St Annes

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That 2021 figure in turn was up 25 per cent on the 3,343 provided in the year to March 2020, before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The charity typically hands out emergency packages containing three days’ worth of food.

Since the start of the pandemic, it has also started providing supplies in seven-day packages, in response to growing need and to limit the number of deliveries.

Volunteers check the stock at Fylde Foodbank in St Annes

Across the North West, 252,048 parcels were handed out by the region’s 235 distribution centres in the year to March.

The Trussell Trust warned that food bank use has accelerated in the past six months, as the rising cost of basic amenities has hit people’s pockets.

“It’s an unprecedented time for demand on food banks and we are seeing more new faces all the time,” said Coun Linda Nulty, chairman of the Trustees of Fylde Foodbank.

“The figures went up notably during the pandemic but the Universal Credit cut brought a spike after that ahead of Christmas and we have seen substantially increased demand since then.

Linda Nulty, chairman of the Trustees of Fylde Foodbank

“The rise in utilities bills and the cost of living generally is only really just starting to bite, so it will get worse, with the back end of summer into the autumn likely to be a major period of concern.

"All the time we are seeing new faces, with different scenarios, including more and more working people who are struggling to make ends meet.

“There’ll always be a role for strong community groups looking out for their neighbours, and we're so grateful for the generous support of our volunteers and to local people who have donated to the foodbank. Together, you’ve made sure that local people who can’t afford the essentials don’t face hunger.

“The support we see across the community for people on the lowest incomes is incredible. But it shouldn’t be needed. We should all be free from hunger. No one should be pushed deeper into poverty without enough money for the things we all need. It’s not right that anyone in our areas needs our foodbank in the first place - everyone should be able to afford the essentials.

“This is just the start of the cost of living crisis. But we know what’s pushing people to need foodbanks like ours, so we know what needs to be done. People cannot afford to wait any longer for support – UK, national and local governments at all levels must use their powers and take urgent action now to strengthen our social security system so it keeps up with the true cost of living.”

Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussel Trust, said: “People are telling us they’re skipping meals so they can feed their children. That they are turning off essential appliances so they can afford internet access for their kids to do their homework.

“How can this be right in a society like ours? And yet food banks in our network tell us this is only set to get worse as their communities are pushed deeper into financial hardship.

“No one’s income should fall so dangerously low that they cannot afford to stay fed, warm and dry.”

In year to March, 33 per cent – or 1,379 – of the parcels handed out in Fylde were given to children, up from 1,185 in the year before the pandemic.

Across the UK at large, nearly 2.2 million parcels were distributed in the year to March 2022 – fewer than the 2.6 million the year before, but a significant increase on the 1.2 million provided five years ago in the year to March 2017.

Due to a growing number of independent food banks and the existing work of other organisations and charities, the Trussell Trust warns that its figures do not show the full extent of food poverty in the UK.

The Department for Work and Pensions said that it recognises the pressures on the cost of living and is "doing what it can" to help, such as spending £22 billion across the next financial year to support people with energy bills and fuel duty.

Fylde outlets at St Annes (Tuesday and Thursday) and Kirkham (Monday and Friday) are open two days a week, with an outlet also at Warton on Wednesdays, but Linda says there is also an emergency contact number to ensure everyone in need always has someone to turn to.

Details at fylde.foodbank.org.uk or by calling 01253 727455.