Food banks have rapidly become a staple part of British life for some of the poorest people living in the UK. Often run by local churches and charities, the food banks rely on grocery donations which are passed on to people who need help feeding themselves and their families.
This winter, charity the Red Cross is handing out food parcels in the UK for the first time since World War II. A church-led charity campaign is also using billboards to spell out the words that ‘Britain isn’t eating’. Underneath a caption says ‘thousands are going hungry because of benefit changes’. The poster by the church mimics a party political election poster by the Conservative Government in the 1979 election which said ‘Labour isn’t working’.
Meanwhile the Secretary of State for the Department for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, says there’s: ‘no robust evidence’ that welfare reforms are linked to the increased use of food banks.
According to Citizens Advice, there has been a 24 per cent rise in the need for emergency food due to delays in benefit payments and lower living wages. Charity the Trussell Trust, says the soaring use in food banks is because of rising living costs, stagnant wages and problems with benefit payments.
An official report from the House of Lords published in July this year said that ‘food banks are absolutely not part of our welfare system’. It’s also emerged that 296 MPs voted against investigating food bank use in the UK.
According to the Observer newspaper, the Work and Pensions Secretary Ian Duncan Smith has denied claims that benefit reforms are linked to rise in people turning to food hand outs.
In the article, Mr Duncan Smith criticised the political message of the charity, the Trussell Trust, accusing them of seeking to influence welfare reform policy. He also said the charity was scaremongering.
Jad Adams, chair of Nightwatch, a homeless charity in Croyden which has been handing out food to poor people for 30 years, said: “The increase shows the desperate need of so many families and individual for the most basic commodity and it’s absolutely terrible we should be faced with this level of deprivation.
The food banks have only been set up because there is a genuine need for them. What we’ve found, in the past two years, is that the need for our service has doubled. The need for free food has gone up and up – and that’s shocking.”
(Voice of Russia)