06 February 2023

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Food banks were practically unheard of in Britain just 20 years ago. Now, they are a lifeline of communities in every corner of the country.

The Trussell Trust – which opened its first food bank in a Salisbury garden shed in 2000 - provides an emergency parcel every 13 seconds.

A recent survey by Trussell reveals a 33% increase in the total number of food parcels distributed between April, 2022 and September, 2022, compared to the same period 12 months ago.

In many cases, it’s simply about survival. One Trussell volunteer said:

“The arrival of a box of food doesn’t solve all of a family’s problems, but it can just help them through a few more days.” 

The risk of food insecurity is always higher amongst young people, those affected by ill health, the unemployed, low-income, and single-parent households.

Single parent, Larna lives in a council property and receives Employment Support Allowance and Personal Independence Payment.

She struggled to pay rent, afford gas, electricity, and accrued debts. She was also short of money for food prompting her to call Trussell Trust’s Help Through The Hardship line.

Larna explained to advisers that she is struggling with debt and mental health problems and has no family support and no friends to help. Larna told the adviser how she used to manage her finances well but with increases in energy prices over the winter, she found herself in debt and needed money to buy food. Her plea was answered.

The Trussell Trust adviser told Larna about the discretionary housing payment to help with her bills and debts and referred her to a mental health charity to help with the extreme panic attacks she suffered on bad mental health days. They also organised for her food parcels to be delivered as she had no bus money to access her nearest food bank.

This was a massive relief as she barely had anything left at home. Larna teared up as she explained how grateful she was for the help. She further explained that she initially felt embarrassed to ask for help but the advisor reassured her not to feel ashamed.

Players of People’s Postcode Lottery support the help Larna received. The Help Through Hardship Line provides free advice, immediate support, and long-term solutions to those in need through a trained advisor.

Help Through Hardship Line also offered vital support to Jarad, an asylum seeker who had to deal with the trauma of not being able to provide basic essentials for his family in a foreign country AND fleeing from a crisis.

Jarad arrived in the United Kingdom fleeing from Syria during the summer of 2021 with his wife and children. He didn’t know anyone, didn’t speak English and was desperate to put food on the table and offer shelter and comfort to his primary school youngsters, both of whom had special needs. 

With little prospect of work, he became desperate and called Trussell Trust Help Through Hardship Helpline for food vouchers. 

It was a brief call that would change his life. During an exchange, a Trussell Trust adviser engaged a language line translator to exactly understand Jarad’s needs. 

This led to Jarad receiving the appropriate help, which included a school for his children and a referral to his local multi-lingual citizen’s adviser. He could check his asylum support payment and access local free food collections. 

This specialist support, in Jarad’s native language, demonstrated what can be achieved with player support.

Players have raised more than £325,000 for Trussell Trust, an award by Postcode Care Trust to enable the Help Through Hardship Helpline, one of the many ways the charity is fighting to end the need for food banks in the UK, through offering support that is beyond food. 

Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford is a major supporter of Trussell and in 2021 collected a cheque for £250,000 for the charity as he was named Postcode Hero.

He said at the time:

“The most important thing to me is the difference these funds will make to families that, for whatever reason or circumstance, are struggling to feed their children.”

Emma Revie, CEO of Trussell Trust, said:

“Food banks in the Trussell Trust network are now distributing 52% more emergency food parcels than before the pandemic. This equates to a food parcel every 13 seconds to people in crisis.
“Our foodbank volunteers and staff have been tirelessly supporting people through this and we anticipate an even worse winter than last. Together, with player support, we will continue to work to end the need for food banks in the UK.
“This means those in need receive the right emergency support and longer-term advice to help them through their difficulties and beyond.” 

The Trussell Trust survey finds more than 14 million people live in the UK in poverty – including 4.5 million children. 

On the frontline to fight against this poverty are 30,000 Trussell Trust volunteers tirelessly supporting people facing hunger in their local communities. They have distributed more than 2.1 million emergency food parcels and are campaigning for the changes required to end the need for food banks in UK.

Paul Jordan, who started working as a volunteer driver at Trussell after losing his job as an executive and leadership coach to Covid, has been shocked by what he witnessed. He said: 

“I have taken food boxes to destitute homes – no floor coverings, no heating, people with their coats on inside, and showing signs of great distress. What can you say?
“So many are living with a toxic mixture of anxiety, fragility, and instability.“

Paul found positives, too, during his visits. He added:

“It is so interesting meeting new and old faces and making special neighbourly connections.” 

The work of Trussell Trust provides emergency food while supporting people in poverty to end the need for food banks in the UK by helping people access targeted support to solve the underlying issues, increase awareness and empathy with the general public, and working closely with foodbanks to identify areas that could be improved to eliminate extreme poverty.