Food bank parcels issued in Portsmouth by The Trussell Trust rise by nearly 70 per cent in a year
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Between April and September 2022, the charity’s city food bank gave out 6,865 parcels. By the same period this year, that had leapt by more than two-thirds to a record 11,571.
Across the South East the trust provided 165,526 emergency food parcels in that period, a rise of nine per cent. This is the most parcels that the network has ever distributed at this point in the year, but the city’s increase far outstrips the regional rise.
The charity says low incomes, especially from social security, debt, health conditions and issues with social security payments such as delays or sanctions were the main reasons people were left with no option but to turn to a food bank for help.
Leanne James, manager of the trust’s Portsmouth food bank, based at The Kings's Church and Centre in Somers Town, said: “We have been busier than ever, but I don’t know why Portsmouth is being hit so hard compared to other places. There are a lot of people out there who need support right now.”
The charity has also reported that an alarming 27,853 people in the South East have needed to use a food bank for the first time in the past six months, warning that food banks are at ‘breaking point’.
“We have our regulars who have been coming to us for some time but we have worked out that we’re getting about 30 new people at the moment. For whatever reason, they have reached the point where they need our help.
"And as we come into winter, that’s only going to rise. People are eking out trying not to put on the heating for as long as possible to avoid that extra expense that could tip them over the edge this winter. And then of course there’s Christmas coming as well, which puts more financial pressure on families.
"If people were already struggling, then winter makes it even worse. There’s no margin for any extra expense, like if something breaks down, or the car needs fixing.
"We have got a brilliant team of volunteers who have stuck with us. We’ve had to make changes with the way we work to cope with the increased demand, but they have adapted really well.”
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: “There are 1.7m fewer people in absolute poverty than in 2010, but we know some families are struggling, which is why we are providing a record support package worth £3,300 per household. This includes the latest cost of living payments paid directly to over eight million households this year, our decision to raise benefits by over 10 per cent earlier this year and our £2bn Household Support Fund which is helping people to buy essentials.
“We also know that households are at least £6,000 a year better off in full-time work than out of work on benefits, and to help people out of poverty through work we are also increasing the National Living Wage again and investing £3.5bn to help thousands into jobs, grow the economy and bear down on inflation.”
For more information on the Portsmouth Food Bank go to portsmouth.foodbank.org.uk.