Even if the UK is one of the richest countries in the world, more than 13 million people are today living below the poverty line and struggle to feed themselves and their families. Redundancy, illness, benefit delay, domestic violence, debt, family breakdown and wintertime heating costs are just some of the reasons why people go hungry.
‘’We have serious concerns relating to welfare reforms currently taking place in this country and how these will affect the most vulnerable”, says Alison Inglis-Jones, Trustee of The Trussell Trust, a not for profit organisation providing food banks and emergency supplies of food throughout the UK.
The Trussell Trust was founded by Carol and Paddy Henderson in 1997 after they had opened a foodbank in their garden, providing emergency food to local people in crisis. The aim of the Trust is to offer a minimum of three days emergency food to support people in crisis.
‘’Foodbanks help to prevent crime, housing loss, family breakdown and mental health problems. A simple box of food makes a big difference’’, says Inglis-Jones.
Their first projects started in Bulgaria, focusing on improving conditions for children sleeping at the Central Railway Station. The Trussell Trust’s work soon expanded, to involve not only Bulgaria but the UK. The organisation has since launched several innovative projects, in partnership with local communities and churches, to open new foodbanks nationwide. With over 420 foodbanks currently operational, the goal is to have one in each town.
More than just food
However, he Trussell Trust organisation aims to be more than just a traditional foodbank.
‘’The Trussell Trust aims to create a warm second home, in a welcoming café style environment to protect dignity and to help reduce stigma where clients are given ordinary shopping bags to take food home in,” says Inglis-Jones.
‘’Many people tell us that the foodbank is the first place they’ve come to where they have been truly listened to and not treated as a number. Many people who have been helped are so touched that they come and volunteer themselves’’.
The Trussell Trust is currently developing a project called ‘More than Food’ in conjunction with member food banks. The initiative includes debt and finance advice provision, fuel vouchers from NPower, ‘Eat Well Spend Less’ cooking courses and provision of better support for people coming to our food banks.
‘’We provide signposting to other agencies and local services able to help resolve the underlying cause of the crisis and we actively partner with referral agencies to make sure that people do not become reliant on emergency food’, Inglis-Jones tells The LINK.
Help for millions
The Trussell Trust has since its start helped millions of people and the need for foodbanks is significant. In 2014 over 1 million people were provided with three days’ emergency food by Trussell Trust foodbanks in the UK, an increase of 38% from the same period the previous year.
“A foodbank in Scotland recently gave emergency food to a family who had been hit by two redundancies and a problem with benefits”, says Inglis-Jones. “The mother had to stop breastfeeding her baby because she was too malnourished. She was referred to the foodbank.”
The feedback they had after helping the family was that it was a relief to finally get to speak to someone who cared and genuinely wanted to help. The emotional support the family had received at the foodbank had been almost as good as the food. When the young son came home from school and saw all the food in the kitchen cupboards he couldn’t believe it. What the Trussell Trust had done for the family was to give them new hope for the future.
Inglis-Jones herself is optimistic about the future.
‘‘We would welcome fewer people coming to the foodbanks and hope that through the ‘More than Food’ project people will return fewer times. It is possible that we will be making more provision other than food. As long as communities see a need we hope to be able to continue enabling people to meet that need’’.
How can you help further?
The Swedish Chamber of Commerce for the UK is proud to announce that at this year’s Christmas Luncheon more than half of the proceeds from the ever so popular Christmas raffle will benefit charity. For any amount spent on raffle tickets before or during the event at least 50 % will go to the Trust and their foodbanks.
If you want to support the work of Trussell Trust further, there are many ways of helping in their fight against the hunger crisis in the UK. Besides donating money, donating non-perishable food to stores or local foodbanks as well as offer your time to volunteer are ways you can help. The Trussell Trust also encourage people to take initiative and open foodbanks in their local community to meet their mission: Bringing communities together to end hunger and poverty in the UK.
You can learn more about the different ways to get involved by visiting: www.trusselltrust.org/donate