Foodbank use in Hastings and Rother revealed

More parcels have been distributed to families in Rother in the last two years compared to the previous period, new figures reveal.

But in Hastings the figure has dropped.

Data from the Trussell Trust’s network of foodbanks shows that in Rother, from April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2022 the number of foodbank parcels distributed to families in need saw a 43 per cent rise.

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For Hastings, there was a 35 per cent drop over the same two-year-period.

A woman taking notes while group of volunteers are packing food and clothes in donation boxes. Picture from Drazen - SUS-220405-121950001

The latest figures from the Trussell Trust’s network show more than 2.1 million parcels were given to people facing financial hardship across the country, from April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022.

This represents a 14 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2019/20.

Michelle Pannell, project manager for Bexhill and Battle Foodbanks, said: “The sharp rise in usage of the Rother foodbanks by local people in the last couple of years has been sad, but of course not unexpected.

“The pandemic has led to changing and uncertain situations for so many people, especially those who have the lowest income.

“The volunteer teams have been doing an amazing job serving our clients in really trying times and local people have continued to be generous with their donations, for which we sincerely thank them. However, we wonder how long this will continue as everyone starts to feel the squeeze.

“At the Trussell Trust roadshow last week we heard the scary comment, “the storm has ended but here comes the tsunami”, referring to the cost of living crisis potentially having an even more devastating impact than the Covid-19 pandemic had.

“In the last couple of weeks alone, we have seen a rise in new referrals to the Bexhill and Battle foodbanks where clients cannot afford to pay their energy bills.

“Some are even asking us to just give them food that can be eaten cold, so they don’t have to spend their limited income on electricity. Thank goodness summer is approaching but we do feel fearful for when autumn and then winter hit again. The Government really does need to implement some robust solutions for those on the lowest incomes to be able to live well this winter.”

Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, said: “People are telling us they’re skipping meals so they can feed their children. That they are turning off essential appliances so they can afford internet access for their kids to do their homework.

“How can this be right in a society like ours? And yet food banks in our network tell us this is only set to get worse as their communities are pushed deeper into financial hardship. No one’s income should fall so dangerously low that they cannot afford to stay fed, warm and dry.

“There is still time for the UK government to do the right thing. We are calling on the UK government to bring benefits in line with the true cost of living.

“As an urgent first step benefits should be increased by at least seven per cent, keeping pace with increases in the cost of living.

“In the longer term, we need the Government to introduce a commitment in the benefits system to ensure that everyone has enough money in their pockets to be prevented from falling into destitution.

“By failing to make benefits payments realistic for the times we face, the Government now risks turning the cost of living crisis into a national emergency.”

A Government spokesperson said: “We recognise the pressures on the cost of living and we are doing what we can to help, including spending £22 billion across the next financial year to support people with energy bills and cut fuel duty.

“For the hardest hit, we’re putting an average of £1,000 more per year into the pockets of working families on Universal Credit, have also boosted the minimum wage by more than £1,000 a year for full-time workers and our Household Support Fund is there to help with the cost of everyday essentials.”