By Georgia Kenington, Public Affairs Assistant at the Trussell Trust
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Ending the Need for Food Banks is undertaking a landmark inquiry to explore the most effective and dignified solutions to tackle the growing need for food banks across the UK and needs to hear from people with experience, knowledge, or informed opinions on the issues that the inquiry is looking into.
What is an APPG?
An APPG is an All-Party Parliamentary Group, that is made up of parliamentarians (from the House of Commons, House of Lords or both) from across the political spectrum, who come together around a specific interest.
This APPG will focus on the strengths and limitations of providing food as a response to hunger, and building awareness of cash-based responses to destitution. You can learn more about the APPG on Ending the Need for Food Banks via the link at the bottom of the page.
If you have experience, knowledge, or informed opinions on the issues that the inquiry is looking into, here are five reasons to get involved and share your experience:
1. The time to take action is now!
Between 1 April 2021 and 31 March 2022, food banks in the Trussell Trust’s UK wide network distributed over 2.1 million emergency food parcels to people facing hardship. This is an increase of 14% compared to the same period in 2019/20 and shockingly, 832,000 of these parcels went to children.
The Covid-19 pandemic and the cost of living crisis have seen record levels of need for food banks, providing a critical opportunity to assess the best ways to support people in financial crisis.
“The people who come in are telling me they’re scared. People are beside themselves about what the next six months will bring.”
Food bank manager
The APPG inquiry seeks to challenge the growing normalisation of emergency food as a response to people facing destitution, by learning which are the most effective and most dignified forms of support.
2. The inquiry provides a powerful opportunity to hold (all levels of) Government to account
The inquiry team is made up of five committed MPs and Peers from all major parties, and across both Houses of Parliament. The cross-party nature of the group gives them the legitimacy and credibility to put party politics to one side and form a united front to do what really matters – tackle the need for food banks. The inquiry is also looking to influence at all levels of government – UK, national, and local – to see how the support differs between each level, and how each can be most effective.
3. The inquiry wants to centre the voices of people with lived experience and people on the frontline
The team wants to hear about the lived experiences and challenges of people who are directly affected, so that they can develop the most effective policies and work to end the problem at its root. Every step of the way, this inquiry has been guided by the people who are most affected and can use their experiences to explain what is happening on the ground. During the in-person visits around the UK, the team will make sure they hear from people who are worrying about money, skipping meals and using support services to get by, as well as those that provide them, about the opportunities and limitations that they face.
4. It will put the policies that can end the need for food banks direct to the UK Government
We know that food cannot be a long-term solution, and that we need effective and dignified responses to this systemic problem, by exploring the range of support available to communities and governments beyond emergency food aid, whether that’s low cost food, in-kind support such as a voucher, or cash grants. The collaborative element between people with lived experience and elected representatives in parliament provides the most direct route to change – once the report, with recommendations for the UK Government, is produced, it will be taken straight to parliament with the cross-party backing it needs for the most impact.
5. This is your opportunity to shape the future and make your voice heard
Your experience matters. No contribution is too small, as the success of the inquiry rests on the breadth of knowledge and experiences anyone who has been affected. Whether you have needed to access emergency food or have provided services to support people who can’t afford the essentials, each perspective is unique and can provide something that others can’t. And the cumulative effect of every person’s voice together creates enormous impact, that the team would be very grateful for.