‘We are under immense pressure’ – local foodbanks in urgent appeal for help as cost of living crisis hits

Pic: Lewisham foodbank

Foodbanks across the Eastlondonlines boroughs are urgently appealling for more volunteers and donations of essential items as demand from impoverished families increases as a result of the looming cost of living crisis

Shell Tran, from Hackney Foodbank, told Eastlondonlines: “We are currently under immense pressure at the moment.” Sheena Starret, the project Manager for Lewisham Foodbank, said: ”People are surviving on impossibly low incomes and are crippled by debt.”

The foodbanks have warned they are likely to run out of basic necessities such as rice, tinned foods and lunchboxes foods for children and household items like nappies and toilet rolls. Volunteer drivers and warehouse assistants are also urgently needed

Inflation rose by 5.1 per cent between November and December last year due to a rise in food costs and the energy bill crisis. Many families are now also facing social security cuts, reduced wages and the national insurance contributions – confirmed by the Government this weekend.

Trans, the marketing and communications manager at Hackney added: “As a result of this, the number of people who visit our food bank centres and the types of support they need has grown exponentially and continues to grow.”

Hackney Foodbank saw 19,320 visits from 6,900 people last year, who were supported with food and access to vital services.Tran said: “We expect this number to increase as the cost of living in London rises. With reduced numbers of volunteers due to Covid and fewer donations, we need help now more than ever. We are currently running low on tinned meat, tinned fruit, long life fruit juice, jars of curry sauce and small packs of biscuits.”

Hackney Foodbank volunteers

“The delivery of our services is reliant on a fantastic team of volunteers who represent every aspect of our vibrant community in the borough. We would like to encourage anyone that would like to support local people in crisis and has spare time to join our Hackney Foodbank family with different roles that are available and can be found on our website.”

Lewisham Foodbank Tweet

Starret told ELL the Lewisham foodbank was in need of more volunteers, particularly drivers and warehouse assistants. The Foodbank is currently low on long life milk and juice, tinned meat, fish and rice. The hashtag “#ThisWeekWeNeed” on their Twitter account, provides daily updates on the current needs of food items for the organisation. Volunteers can get in touch through their website.

In 2021, the foodbank supported more than 3,400 households, seven times more than in 2016. “Combined with the recent cut in Universal Credit, rising energy costs and the lack of affordable housing, rising food costs mean that more and more people will go hungry.

”As well as providing emergency food parcels, we are also a fuel bank and so can support people on pre-payment meters with gas and electric. This is a critically important addition at this time, ensuring that people are able to cook the food we provide for them and stay warm. We are working to the Trussell Trust’s vision of a UK without the need for food banks. As part of that, we have advice workers in our centres who attempt to maximise our clients’ incomes.”

As ELL reported last week, foodbanks in Croydon have been given Government grants of up to £5,000, channelled via the council to support locals in need of support but have warned that the money is not enough.

Bushra Ahmed, co-chair of Big Local Broad Green, told ELL: These funds are desperately needed in the Broad Green area, already one of the most deprived wards in Croydon and the reason why the Big Local programme was brought into the area in the first place.” But they added: “This is not going to be enough to stave off the worst cumulative effects on our community.”

Staff at Croydon Foodbank

“We, as organisations that see the devastating results of the cuts, need to keep making the case for the Croydon voluntary sector to be funded in line with the growing need and also on a long-term basis, so that charities are able to plan longer-term for sustainable Covid recovery.”

Volunteers at Bethnal Green Foodbank

In Tower Hamlets, Bow Foodbank, an independent charity, is currently urgently seeking more volunteers at the Bethnal Green and Bow foodbanks. Bow Foodbank is holding a winter appeal up until the end of February to help support families in need of vital household items. You can support this online here and choose the items you wish to donate, such as lunchbox fillers, cupboard staples and nappies.

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