At least 13 million people in the UK live below the poverty line and every day people in the UK go hungry for reasons ranging from unemployment to having to pay off debts to doorstop lenders. In 2011-12 food banks fed 128,687 people nationwide which was 100% more than the previous year.
The busiest food bank in Britain is in Coventry, it is run by the Trussell Trust and it can provide people three days of good quality food such as rice, sugar, tinned meat/fish and cereals. However you can’t just turn up their and get some grub, the only people who can receive food are those that have been referred by social services, youth offending teams or the citizen’s advice bureau.
Once they’ve been referred they can only go once or twice before they are put onto programmes to address the root cause of their poverty.
43% of people who attend the food bank do so because they are on benefits but they have been cut, delayed or the money they are getting simply isn’t enough to feed them. In the first 3 months of 2012, 167,000 people had their job seekers allowance stopped for no apparent reason. When this is what they’re surviving off and it is taken away from them they have little other choice but to go to food banks and take out a crisis loan.
The other 57% are people who have jobs but still cannot afford to feed themselves. A lot of the time it is because they have borrowed money in order to pay for bills and they have to pay it back out of money they would buy food with. Most people borrow off door stop lenders who befriend them and then guilt trip them into paying the money back with a massive interest rate. It can be very difficult and embarrassing to admit you can’t afford to feed yourself and you need help, but these people have no other choice.
There are no 250 food banks with 3 more opening each week. While our welfare system is suppose to support those who can’t support themselves it is in fact making life more difficult. With benefits not paying a living wage and with the government cutting thousands of peoples everyday for no reason except to make figures go down it is no wonder that people are beginning to starve.
• Jobs for all and a living wage to be paid
• Benefits to be paid at a living wage for those who are unable to work