Foodbanks have become fairly common across the UK in recent years. There are now more than 250 of them and in 2011-12 they helped to feed 128,687 people nationwide – a 100% increase on the year before.
It might surprise you to know who is accessing this support. The BBC’s recent programme ‘Britain’s Hidden Hungry’ certainly challenged a few of my preconceptions. The programme was a window into the genuine hardships that people are facing and was an alarming indication of how close many people are to the ‘breadline’. How many of us live month to month and could cope with an unexpected redundancy?
It can be difficult to think about people ‘in work’ being ‘in poverty’, but the reality is that according to recent trends, this is the ‘most distinctive characteristic of poverty today’. For these individuals, work has not been the route out of poverty that it should be.
Foodbank’s are a response to the need we’re seeing in communities: in most cases offering short term support to those that find themselves in a time of crisis. I attended the launch of a new Foodbank in Tunbridge Wells last week – Nourish Foodbank – and am working with one of their organisers to link with our Whole Person Recovery Programme in West Kent by providing volunteers at the packing and distribution sites.
This is a fantastic new initiative that aims to do more than simply distribute food. Nourish want to be a community hub offering support and signposting and promote inter-agency working. This is incredibly important as budgets are being cut, jobs are being lost, and people move in and out of ‘poverty’ and crisis. We need to use our resources better, unearth latent ones, and create new ones. This is at the heart of what we’re doing in the recovery sector through our Whole Person Recovery programme and so, as you can imagine, we fully support this new community organisation.
The festive period can be a particularly difficult time for many. If you or someone you know is facing a crisis and needs to access a Foodbank outside of Tunbridge Wells, check out www.trusselltrust.org/foodbank-projects for information about your nearest Foodbank.
For those of you that live in or around Tunbridge Wells and would like to support the Nourish Foodbank contact firstname.lastname@example.org.