A new study which reveals the number of food banks in the UK shows that there has been an increase in their number.
But locals in some areas are suggesting that the study may even have underestimated figures, and the truth could be even higher.
New Recorded Figures
The Independent Food Aid Network, or Ifan, carried out a study to measure the number of food banks in the UK. The figures have been causing shock around the country, as they show an increase of around 50% more food banks than have ever been recorded before.
Those who actually work in food banks, however, are arguing that the figures still fall woefully short of the reality. More and more families are turning to food banks in desperation, and supply chain workers are the only ones who may be fully aware of the situation as it develops.
The Ifan results show that there are 12 food banks in the county of Sussex. However, charity workers in the region have expressed a certainty that there are more than that figure just in Brighton and Hove alone.
Changes to the benefits system are being blamed for the rise in food banks and a higher demand for them from members of the public who would consider themselves normal, everyday people. No one wants to have to rely on charity to feed their families, and it’s a desperate last resort.
Prime Minister Theresa May and her Conservative government have come under fire ahead of the General Election because of this increase. She was particularly criticised for suggesting that the reasons nurses have to resort to food banks are “complex” – with many stressing the obvious: it’s simply because they can’t afford to eat.
Sussex Food Banks
There has been a longer history in Brighton and Hove of food bank usage: the City Mission Food Bank was one of the first to be opened in 2000, with the charity behind it having handed out food parcels before the formal opening.
It remains the busiest food bank in the city. 663 individuals and families were referred to use it in 2016, a figure which included 108 families with children and 17 families who were Syrian refugees.
The director of City Mission, Julian Haddow, noted some major food banks from the city which were missed off the Ifan list. These included such food banks as The Whitehawk, the CCK food bank in Shoreham, and food cupboards such as the one at the University of Sussex.
Mr Haddow said: “I think the way benefits are removed and reassessed means people are thrown into chaos far more easily. Even if they are restarted, people can have no cash flow for up to ten weeks. You will get everyday, normal people accessing foodbanks. Hopefully for a lot of them it is short term as they get through a blip.”
There’s also the Purple People Kitchen Food Bank in Portslade, which has been operating since 2013. The Hangleton and West Blatchington Food Bank has been around since December 2014 to help those residents who couldn’t get to Portslade. There are another four food banks operating in and around Lewes, each of which sees a steady number of people each week with referrals climbing. Those with manufacturing jobs may be able to help by encouraging employers to donate stock which is made surplus to orders.
Debbie Twitchen from the Landport Food Bank said, “Increasingly we seem to be seeing more people from rural areas who are finding it difficult to manage because of transport costs and the other issues mentioned above.”