Steep rise in foodbank handouts
New figures have shown a rise in the number of emergency food supplies given to local people by Chesterfield Foodbank in the last year.
Over 2,424 three day emergency food supplies were provided to local people in crisis by Chesterfield Foodbank during 2016-17, compared to 2,122 in 2015-16 - a rise of 14 per cent. Of this number, 578 went to children.
The top three reasons for foodbank referral were: benefit delay 35.4 %; benefit change 17%; low income 18%.
Over the last year, local people have donated over 29 tonnes of food to Chesterfield Foodbank, and over 50 volunteered.
Local schools, businesses and faith groups have provided vital support to the foodbank, enabling the charity to give three days’ nutritionally balanced food and support to people in crisis.
Bosses at Chesterfield Foodbank, which is part of the Trussell Trust network of foodbanks, say they are concerned about the adverse side effects the roll-out of the new Universal Credit system can have on people.
They say the waiting period for a first payment, which can be over six weeks, 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.
Chesterfield Foodbank says it is working hard to stop local people affected going hungry but is troubled by the extra pressure this puts on food donation stocks and volunteers’ time and emotional welfare.
As well as providing emergency food, Chesterfield Foodbank provides essentials like toiletries, nappies and sanitary products to families who are struggling, as well as signposting them to other services in the local area.
Ian Birchmore, Foodbank Manager of Chesterfield Foodbank said: “It is deeply concerning that we are still seeing an increase in the number of three day emergency food supplies provided to local people in crisis in the Chesterfield area over the last year.”
“Anybody could find themselves in need of the foodbank. Every week people are referred to us after being hit by something unavoidable – such as illness, a delay in a benefit payment or an unexpected bill – means food is simply unaffordable.
“It really is only with the community’s support that we’re able to provide vital emergency help when it matters most, and we hope that one day there will be no need for us in Chesterfield.
“But until that day comes, we will continue to offer the best possible service to help local people facing a crisis.
“Thank you so much to everyone in the Chesterfield area who already donates time, food and money to help local people.
“ If you’re not already involved, we’d love to hear from you!”
Despite generous donations of food, there are many hidden costs to run the foodbank, currently £20,000 annually.
Costs include warehouse space, to sort and stock donated food, a van still required to pick up donated food and deliver to distribution centres, and other overheads like utilities and insurances.
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 https://chesterfield.foodbank.org.uk.