MALMESBURY and District Foodbank is braced for its busiest December yet as new figures suggest a record number of people in crisis will need support ahead of Christmas.
With Christmas only a few weeks away, the Trussell Trust is concerned figures from last December, taken alongside the increase in food bank parcels needed so far this year, suggest more people than ever will need a foodbank’s help.
According to statistics released by the Trussell Trust, an organisation that runs more than 400 foodbanks across the UK, the number of people using the foodbank in Malmesbury has almost doubled.
The trust reported that 1,215 three-day emergency food supplies were handed out between October 31, 2018 and October 31, 2019. Of those 381 went to children.
The charity believes the increase is due to people struggling with low income, often brought about by continued issues with benefit payments and Universal Credit.
The foodbank has needed to give emergency food and support to people who are waiting at least five weeks for a first Universal Credit payment or who are not able to access support or who are receiving payments that don’t cover the cost of essentials.
Trustee at the foodbank Dick Gray said: “At the Malmesbury and District Foodbank, we are seeing a year on year increase in numbers being fed approaching 50 percent.
“Thanks to the very generous people in our area, we are able to keep up with this increase.
“We have seen that low income is now accounting for over 50 percent of the referrals.
“This can be because of the type of work or because of the level of benefits.
“When people go onto Universal Credit they have a five week wait before they receive any money.”
The Trussell Trust’s chief executive Emma Revie added: “Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy and celebration – but for too many people it’s becoming harder and harder to keep their heads above water.
“Nine in 10 of us believe hunger in the UK is a problem – food banks cannot and should not have to continue to pick up the pieces.
“We know many people want to help their local communities at this time of year.
“It’s not right that anyone should have to use a food bank at any time of year – not just at Christmas.
“It’s not inevitable that every Christmas we hear stories about families needing food banks. It’s in our power to reach a future where everyone has enough money for the basics. This can change.”
However, with the dramatic rise that has been seen in the number of people being referred to the foodbank, staff are having to work hard to make sure that there is enough stock to meet the demands.
Collection points are available at Waitrose, Co-op, St Aldhelm’s church and Malmesbury Abbey.
For more information on the foodbank, go to bit.ly/2V0O9qS.