Foodbank demand is a ‘national disgrace’

Rev Chas Sandhu (second right) with volunteers at Agape Care Foodbank, The Lighthouse Church, Spalding. Photo:  SG260712-155TW www.spaldingtoday.co. uk/buyaphoto
Rev Chas Sandhu (second right) with volunteers at Agape Care Foodbank, The Lighthouse Church, Spalding. Photo: SG260712-155TW www.spaldingtoday.co. uk/buyaphoto

Foodbanks in South Holland and Bourne are bracing themselves for an influx of cases in line with a new report on food poverty in Britain.

Walking the Breadline, the Scandal of Food Poverty in 21st Century Britain claims that more than 500,000 people are now dependent on food aid, including foodbanks and the need for food parcels.

Rev Rosamund Seal, vicar of Holbeach. Photo: SG060113-114TW  www.spaldingtoday.co.uk/buyaphoho

Rev Rosamund Seal, vicar of Holbeach. Photo: SG060113-114TW www.spaldingtoday.co.uk/buyaphoho

The report from Church Action on Poverty and Oxfam has been published at the same time as plans to open a new foodbank centre in Holbeach are expected to be finalised this week.

Potential volunteers and representatives from Spalding’s Agape Care Foodbank are meeting at All Saints’ Church, Holbeach, on Thursday at 7.30pm to discuss moves to open a satellite centre in the town.

The Rev Rosamund Seal, vicar of Holbeach, said: “I, like many others, am increasingly concerned that foodbanks are now needed to such an extent by the ever increasing number of families who are struggling to afford to eat properly.

“This indicates to me that the current economic crisis and the reforms in welfare benefits are biting hard and people are not getting the support that they need.

“It is a sad reflection of our times and it seems that the desire to set up a foodbank in Holbeach could not be more timely.”

The report includes figures from The Trussell Trust, the biggest provider of foodbanks in the UK, which showed that more than 350,000 people relied on the help of foodbanks in 2012-13.

This was almost triple the number of people who received food aid in 2011-12 and about 100,000 more than expected.

But with the rise of independent foodbanks run by churches and community groups, the report estimated the real number of people relying on food aid was more than 500,000 – a figure which is set to grow as benefit changes introduced in April begin to take effect.

The report said: “The explosion in food poverty and the use of foodbanks is a national disgrace and undermines the UK’s commitment to ensuring that all its citizens have access to food – one of the most basic of all human rights.

“The growth in food aid demonstrates that the social safety net is failing in its basic duty to ensure that families have access to sufficient income to feed themselves adequately.”

Pastor Chas Sandhu, of The Lighthouse Church, Spalding, where Agape Care Foodbank is based, said: “We’re at the point where we desperately need a warehouse or shop in which to store donations because we’ve run out of space at the church.”