Fears food could run out as people in crisis using Norwich Foodbank surges

Norwich Foodbank has revealed an increase in people coming to them for help this year. Pictured, lef

Norwich Foodbank has revealed an increase in people coming to them for help this year. Pictured, left to right, Pam Broughton and Barbara Moore (Foodbank volunteers). Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Almost 500 more people came to Norwich Foodbank in crisis over six months this year amid concern there will not be enough food to distribute this winter.

In the six months to September 30 this year, 4,773 three day emergency supplies were given to people in Norwich, including 1,448 children.

The figure is up from 4,281 packages in the same period in 2016, of which 1,414 went to children.

Norwich Foodbank believes the local increase is due to people struggling with continued issues of delayed or changed benefit payments, low wages and insecure work.

In the months leading to Christmas a number of factors, such as cold weather and high energy bills mean The Trussell Trust's foodbank network traditionally sees a spike in foodbank use. Norwich foodbank is asking the community to help them prepare for their busiest time of year by ensuring Christmas donations reach the warehouse by December 8 so they can be passed on to those in need in time for Christmas Day.

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Norwich Foodbank is also concerned about the future rollout of Universal Credit, following evidence from other foodbanks in The Trussell Trust's network about the issues people referred to them have experienced with the new system. The six week waiting period for a first payment can contribute to debt, mental health issues and rent arrears.

Hannah Worsley, foodbank Manager of Norwich Foodbank said the increase is 'really worrying'.

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'Every week people are referred to us after something unavoidable - like illness, a delayed benefit payment or an unexpected bill - means there's no money for food,' she said. 'It's only with local people's help that we're able to provide vital support when it matters most.'

Mark Ward, Interim Chief Executive at The Trussell Trust, said: 'The simple truth is that even with the enormous generosity of our donors and volunteers, we're concerned foodbanks could struggle to meet demand this winter if critical changes to benefit delivery aren't made now. People cannot be left for weeks without any income, and when that income does come, it must keep pace with living costs – foodbanks cannot be relied upon to pick up the pieces. Without urgent action from policy-makers and even more generous practical support from the public, we don't know how foodbanks are going to stop families and children going hungry this Christmas.'

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