The British government has been accused by church leaders of violating the human right to food, following a Trussell Trust report which has revealed the demand for foodbanks has increased 163 per cent in the last year.
At the beginning of April, ELL uncovered how 6,500 east London residents have been forced to use Trussell Trust foodbanks in the last eight months, almost double the number that visited in the period between April 2012 and April 2013.
This is a dramatic figure but it underestimates the numbers because there has also been a rise in independent foodbanks across the country.
The ‘We Care Lewisham Food Bank’ in New Cross is the largest independent foodbank in the UK. When it opened a year and a half ago, there were only 28 users but now it has over 1000 clients.
There are also Mosque-run charities like Sufra, who work alongside other charities including the Trussell Trust, to offer support to people of all religions and ethnicities.
Al-Mizan, the parent charity of Sufra, reported that the organisation has provided food to more than 3,000 people in its first six months with some users walking for miles across London to get to them.
There were no foodbanks in the East of London in 2009. Residents have been turning to foodbanks as a means of subsistence, as they attempt to deal with the difficult financial situation they face including increases in benefit sanctions.
Following the Trussell Trust report,Religious leaders have also come together to sign a letter calling for urgent government action on food poverty.
The letter, which is being delivered to the leaders of political parties today, is signed by 600 church leaders from all major denominations, including 36 Anglican bishops.
It states: “We call on the Government to take immediate action to ensure that the no one in the UK is denied their most basic right to sufficient and adequate food,” their common statement says.
A coalition of anti-poverty charities, have claimed that the government are breaching international law by violating the human right to food.
A public vigil will also be held opposite Parliament at 6pm this evening.
Read more on how the changes to benefits rules are affecting people living along the East London Line.