A record number of people in Worcester are struggling to afford essentials such as food and toiletries due to low household income and benefit delays – but worse may be yet to come.
That’s the warning from Worcester Foodbank which has today (Tuesday) revealed it handed out just over 6,100 three-day food parcels in 2017/18 – up 10 per cent on the previous year. A third of these supplies were needed to feed children.
It means demand for emergency food is at its highest level since the charity opened its doors six years ago, with changes or delays to benefit payments and low household incomes the main reasons behind the rise.
The number of referrals is expected to increase even further from October when the full rollout of Universal Credit reaches Worcester. The changes have already caused a spike in foodbank dependency in many other parts of the country. And some single people in Worcester have also encountered difficulties after voluntarily making the switch to Universal Credit ahead of the autumn rollout.
Grahame Lucas, Worcester Foodbank Manager, said: “We don’t want to be here forever but there does not appear to be any light at the end of the tunnel with demand for emergency food at a record high.”
“It doesn’t have to be this way. We need a benefits system that catches people before they fall into crisis and secure work which provides households with an income that, at the very least, enables them to cover the cost of essentials.”
Despite the bleak outlook, volunteers at the Lowesmoor-based warehouse have been buoyed by the support of local people who have donated a record 71 tonnes of supplies to foodbank in the past 12 months.
Mr Lucas added: “People’s generosity never ceases to amaze us and is a constant encouragement. It has put us in a much stronger position to deal with the inevitable rise in referrals Universal Credit will bring this autumn – but we really need that level of support to continue.”
To find out how you can support Worcester Foodbank by donating food, time or money visit www.worcester.foodbank.org.uk (ENDS)