Left to right: Event sponsor and Conservative MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire, Rt Hon Stephen Crabb MP, lived experience speaker, Val McKie, and Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Liz Kendall MP. (Copyright Georgie Scott/Trussell Trust)
By Beatrice Orchard – Senior Policy and Public Affairs Manager
Yesterday, we hosted an event in the House of Commons to talk about what is pushing people to food banks, and about the building blocks that are needed to end hunger for good.
The event brought MPs together with staff and volunteers from our food banks, people with their own experiences of poverty and hunger, and our partners in the charity and business sectors.
There were speeches from Conservative MP, Stephen Crabb, and Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Liz Kendall MP. Both spoke of wanting to see an end to the need for emergency food – a very welcome and important step in making sure poverty and hunger are prominent issues in Parliament ahead of the spring budget on 6 March.
Our food banks have been stretched to breaking point during the autumn and winter months, following record levels of need in April to September 2023. This is why we are calling on the chancellor to commit to continued investment in the Household Support Fund for at least the next year so low-income families facing hardship, hunger, or unexpected costs can get the help they need in their communities – something that several MPs were able to discuss directly with food banks before going to a debate on the issue after our event.
Guests also heard from Val, who spoke about her life being ‘upended’ by her husband’s cancer diagnosis and subsequent death. Val explained how our social security system should be there for us all when we need it, but that right now it’s failing to protect us from hardship and often causes harm.
We know a supportive social security system that ensures everyone can afford the essentials is key to building a future where people aren’t forced to turn to a food bank to survive, which is why we also called on everyone at the event to support our campaign for an Essentials Guarantee.
The event was just one small part of the journey to achieving our vision of a UK without the need for food banks, but it felt like an important moment to bring together people who can shape the systems, policies and practices that will turn this vision into reality. Val summed it up best with her plea to everyone in the room to “come together and do something radical and remarkable.”