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The PM says no child will go hungry – our new report shows extending local welfare would be a good place to start

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Rory Weal, policy & public affairs manager:

The campaign led by Marcus Rashford to extend free school meals in England to cover the half term holidays, may have been rejected by the government – but it has not gone away. In fact, it has inspired a huge upsurge in generosity and demands for justice across the length and breadth of the country.

This recognition could not be more needed. At the Trussell Trust we support a network of 1,200 food banks centres across the UK, and we have long been aware of both the strength of the communities of this country and the dire economic circumstances too many families find themselves in.

Since the pandemic hit, the situation has got worse.  Food banks in our network expect to be giving out six emergency food parcels a minute this winter. The contribution of volunteers and supporters is tireless, but the reality is no one should be forced to turn to charity to put food on the table.

That is why the public support for free school meals has been phenomenal and extending provision to cover holidays is so needed. But as Marcus Rashford has said free school meals can only ever be a ‘sticking plaster’, when the underlying issue is people not having enough money for essentials. The government has recognised this.

On Monday afternoon Boris Johnson told us all,

“We’re going to make sure that we have no children, no kids, no pupils in our country who go hungry this winter, certainly not as a result of any government inattention.” 

And throughout the week, in dismissing calls for supporting children on free school meals during half term, despite doing so over the summer, government ministers have instead argued for other ways to get resources to people who need them most, such as through funding for local authorities and Universal Credit. They have pointed to the temporary £20 weekly rise in Universal Credit payments and a £63 million emergency grant given to councils.

What has been mentioned less often is that both these investments are hanging in the balance.

The government has not confirmed it will keep that £20 increase in Universal Credit next spring, and this rise still doesn’t cover people who haven’t moved over from our old benefits system. The £63 million investment in local welfare was announced in the summer, but the government was clear that it expected most of this money to have been spent by the end of October. This was clocked by Rashford on Wednesday who tweeted his surprise that this money had in fact largely been spent.

Rashford is right to highlight this. Today the Trussell Trust has published new research which shows that while this £63 million has provided an important lifeline to those hardest hit by the crisis, there are real concerns among local authorities that they will not be able to continue to provide support unless further investment is made.

It’s no good for the government to justify a lack of action by referring to alternatives which are ending imminently – families are facing hunger every day. If the government believes there are better alternatives to free school meals, we need to see them now.

That means making the £20 uplift to Universal Credit permanent, extending it to people who are currently excluded and providing an immediate extension to the £63 million in local welfare for the duration of the present crisis.

The Marcus Rashford campaign has heralded an unprecedented upsurge in compassion and calls for justice for people hardest hit by this crisis. We must harness this power and this compassion, and push for long-term solutions. That is the only way we are going to end the need for food banks in the UK, and ensure every child and family gets what they need not just to survive but to thrive.

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Local lifelines – new research on local welfare schemes in England

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Earlier this week, the Prime Minister told us no child will go hungry this winter. Our new report today shows that extending local welfare would be a good place to start. 

Local Lifelines: investing in local welfare during and beyond Covid-19 shows the important role local welfare assistance schemes run by councils in England have played during Covid-19, and calls for an extension to the £63m funding announced in June, which the government expected to be spent within twelve weeks.

The report explains:

  • Local welfare assistance has played an important role in the response to the crisis, often making the difference between someone staying on their feet or falling into destitution, and it can be an effective way of preventing a financial emergency from escalating into a more sustained crisis.
  • While the £63m of funding for local authorities in England invested in June has provided a lifeline, central government was clear it expected councils to spend most of this money within 12 weeks. We spoke with local authorities who told us they are now facing a financial cliff edge, with further investment needed if they are to keep delivering support to those hardest hit by the crisis.
  • As we move into winter, with 670,000 more people forecast to be pushed into destitution, now is not the time to discontinue that welcome additional investment in local welfare.

Sustainable long-term funding is needed – it is unreasonable to expect such short-term funding to overcome entrenched issues such as the postcode lottery in provision, with regional spend in 2018/19 varying from £0.39 per head in the West Midlands to £1.32 per head in the North West. Only guaranteed, sustainable funding can give local authorities the security to plan ahead and build capacity.

We’re asking the government to:

  1. Extend the Emergency Assistance Grant until the end of the financial year 2020/21
  2. Reconvene the Food and Other Essential Supplies to the Vulnerable Ministerial Task Force until July 2021
  3. Invest £250m per year in local welfare assistance over the longer-term.

Food cannot be the answer to people needing a food bank – instead, we need to ensure everyone has enough money to afford essentials. While it’s essential that steps are taken to strengthen national social security, we also need to make sure local welfare acts as the lifeline we know it can be.

Read the full report here.

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What do we spend donations on?

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The Trussell Trust is a charity which supports a network of 1,200 food bank centres across the UK to provide emergency support to people as we work together towards a future where everyone has enough food.  

We don’t spend donated money on food to give to people – the vast majority of food provided by food banks in our network is donated generously by members of the public.  

We’re working to end the need for food banks and while it’s not a simple task, it can be done. If we’re to reach a future where everyone can afford essentials, we need to do three things:  

  1. Support food banks to provide the best possible support to people right now  
  2. Tackle the structural issues that lead to people needing food banks in long-term
  3. Win hearts and minds over to inspire action to create a just society.  

So what does that actually mean in terms of work?  

Supporting food banks to provide the best possible support to people 

There are more than 1,200 food bank centres in our network across the UK, and we support them so they can give the best possible help to people. We work alongside food banks in our network to ensure projects are run to a high standard and provide training, guidance and resources with issues projects face. This includes: 

  • One to one support on the ground through an Area Manager 
  • Access and support for a range of unique cloud-based systems that refer people to food banks and measure how many people are needing food banks 
  • A grants programme which can be used to fund a variety of different things that food banks might struggle to fund otherwise (you can read more about the difference these grants make here in this blog from Colchester Foodbank) 
  • Access to a central support team 
  • Support with sourcing and distributing food stock 
  • A share in nationally negotiated fundraising partnerships with corporates 
  • Best practice sharing across food banks 
  • Support in responding to crises or unexpected situations as they arise  

Tackling the structural issues that lead people to need food banks 

We’re working to end the need for food banks in the future through a range of research, advocacy and campaigning work. We work with academics and researchers to understand who needs food banks and why, so we can then work with policy makers to push for changes that would better protect people from needing a food bank 

Winning hearts and minds over to inspire action to create a just society 

If we want a society that not only thinks it’s wrong people need food banks, but is ready and willing to take action to create a future where food banks aren’t needed, we need to take people on a journey to help them understand what drives people to need food banks and how we can change things. That’s why we’re also working to build a movement of people who care, understand and want to keep the conversation about food bank use in the UK on the agenda so there’s public pressure to address these crucial issues.   

So what money goes where? 

We take our responsibility for any money donated to us very seriously. We spend some money on salaries because to do all of this work we need to be able to pay a team for their expertiseWe’re always carefully weighing decisions about expenditure to ensure what we spend money on is appropriate, while ensuring we have a team that are paid for their skills and experience 

Our financial information is all available online and our most recent annual report is for the year to March 2020. In it you can see £4.78 million went out directly to food banks in grants and £4.88 million was spent on food bank network costs and benefits. In total, about 70% of the Trussell Trust’s income supported or benefitted food banks directly. 12% was used to fund our advocacy work to push for long-lasting change. 7% was used to run charity shops and other social enterprise projects which you can read more about here, and 12% went towards fundraising costs. 

We don’t think it’s right that anyone needs to use a food bank in the UK. And we know this can change. That’s why we spend donor money on supporting food banks to provide the best possible support to people right now, tackling the structural issues that lead to people needing food banks in long-term, and winning hearts and minds over to ensuring we never let this happen in our country again.  

If you’d like to be part of creating that change, you can find out more here 

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Pears Foundation grants £1 million to help get money into pockets of people at food banks

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As part of their ongoing partnership with the Trussell Trust, Pears Foundation has announced a £1 million grant to the charity which supports a network of food banks across the UK. The funds, to be provided over the next five years, will focus on tackling destitution by raising people’s incomes. This will include the provision of high-quality benefits advice made freely available for people referred to food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network. 

As the full impact of Covid-19 continues to unfold, latest research by the Trussell Trust forecasts a 61% increase in food parcels needed across its UK network in October to December – this equates to six emergency food parcels given out every minute.

The anti-poverty charity warns that with mass unemployment predicted on a scale not seen since the early nineties, there will be further rises in poverty with 670,000 additional people classed as destitute by the end of 2020, meaning they cannot afford essentials like housing, energy and food. This is on top of year-on-year rises in the number of people unable to afford food and forced to food banks across the UK.

Pears Foundation has been a long-term partner of the Trussell Trust and this transformational five-year grant will allow the charity to roll out of a national programme of specialist benefits advice, creating sustainable services that meet local need and help make sure people have the money they need.

Pears Foundation has previously supported a Child Poverty Action Group income maximisation pilot based at a food bank in Tower Hamlets. This demonstrated the positive impact welfare rights and benefits advice can have; over the course of eight years, the project returned a total of £4.2m to 1,512 clients.

This new partnership aims to enable half of all food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network to have implemented an income maximisation programme in the next five years. This will include building a financial resilience team, providing signposting training for volunteers, a grant programme to fund services and data capture and advocacy.

Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, said:   

“We’ve seen unprecedented numbers of people needing help from food banks for the first time as the impact of coronavirus has hit people’s incomes. This isn’t right. But thanks to the longstanding support of the Pears Foundation, over many years, we’ve been able to weather the storm of the pandemic and move forward with renewed confidence in supporting our network of food banks during these uncertain times.  

“Ultimately no one should ever need to use a food bank. By making sure that people struggling to afford food are getting as much income as possible, projects funded by this grant will not only help people at the point of crisis but will also make it less likely that someone will need a food bank in the future. We can become a country where everyone has enough money for essentials.”  

Sir Trevor Pears CMG, executive chair of the Pears Foundation, said: 

“We are delighted to continue and deepen our Foundation’s decade long partnership with the Trussell Trust. We fully support the Trust’s new Income Maximisation strategy and their increasing focus on ending the need for food banks. Having funded the successful Tower Hamlets pilot we are very pleased to back the Trust as they roll out this approach on a national basis. I look forward to continuing to work with Emma and the team at Trussell Trust over the coming five years to help thousands of people facing severe financial hardship.”






Contact the Trussell Trust Press Office at 020 3137 3699 or [email protected]


Notes to editors


About the Trussell Trust:

  • We’re here to end the need for food banks in UK.
  • We support a UK-wide network of more than 1,200 food bank centres and together we provide emergency food and support to people locked in poverty, and campaign for change to end the need for food banks in the UK.
  • Our most recent figures for the number of emergency food supplies provided by our network:
  • The Trussell Trust’s food bank network brings together volunteers, staff and supporters of all faiths and none to make a difference. Local churches play a vital part in this work, with around 12,000 churches actively involved in donating food, and providing venues, volunteers and financial support for food banks.
  • You can read more about our work at org


About the Pears Foundation:

The Pears Foundation is an independent family foundation rooted in Jewish values. Led by the Pears family with the support of a full-time professional team, Pears Foundation’s activities are focused on understanding complex issues, engaging people in achieving social progress and promoting wellbeing. Pears Foundation invests around £20million annually in a wide range of charitable organisations and causes, building long-term relationships with grantees to help them achieve their goals. As well as providing core funding to the Trussell Trust’s food bank network since 2007, Pears Foundation supported a pilot advice project in Tower Hamlets Foodbank in partnership with the Child Poverty Action Group, and now provides unrestricted core funding for Child Poverty Action Group.

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Asda’s support helps get new volunteers into food banks

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Asda have been helping get new volunteers into food banks during the coronavirus pandemic by supporting the Trussell Trust with a digital volunteer system that connects volunteers to nearby food banks that need their support.

Volunteers are the bedrock of all the things food banks do – without volunteers, food banks wouldn’t be able to collect donations, ensure people who need support can get help, or campaign for long-term change to prevent people needing food banks in the future.

But when coronavirus struck, many food bank volunteers who were over 70 or had a health condition, needed to stay at home in line with government guidance. At exactly the same time, food banks were busier than ever before – with more and more people needing emergency support as the impact of the crisis hit how much money people had for essentials.

Food banks were also making big changes to the way they worked to ensure people could get support safely – for some this meant doing deliveries, and for others it meant making sure social distancing could be followed in their centres. Facing these challenges, food banks needed their volunteer teams.

Asda’s support meant the Trussell Trust could launch a digital volunteer system that connects people who want to volunteer with nearby food banks needing their support.

At Brent Foodbank, this meant not only could they link up with nearby people eager to give their time – but they could also organise who was volunteering and when really quickly and easily through the system, saving valuable hours during a period when the food bank was busier than ever before.

Brent Foodbank Project Manager Claudia Wallace explains the difference it makes:

“It’s been really exciting getting to see the volunteer system up and running.  It’s easy to log in and move around the site.  It’s been great seeing our rota come together and we’re looking forward to getting our recruitment into the system as well. This will be a real time saver!”

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Tesco announces nationwide Summer Food Collection to support food banks and local community groups

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Tesco is to hold an extra summer food collection to support the Trussell Trust and FareShare in response to an increased need for food in the wake of Covid-19.

From August 20 to 22 special donation points will be put up at every Tesco Superstore and Extra store, with customers being asked to donate essential items of long-life food. Tesco will top up all customer donations with an additional 20% donation in cash to the two charities.

The collection has been organised in direct response to the extra pressures placed on the food banks and community groups which FareShare and the Trussell Trust are supporting during the COVID-19 pandemic. FareShare has seen its highest ever demand for food from the thousands of local charities and community groups it supports, whilst the Trussell Trust has seen need at food banks in its network soar by more than 80%. (more…)

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Asda and Burngreave Foodbank’s volunteer heroes help people get food bank help safely during COVID-19

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Asda have been helping people who need food banks during the coronavirus pandemic by supporting the Trussell Trust to develop a digital system that makes sure anyone who needs a food bank, but is unable to leave their home, can still access vital support.

Every food bank in the Trussell Trust network works with a range of local organizations, like a housing association or local Citizens Advice, that refer people for emergency support. These organisations can assess whether someone is in need of a food bank and before the pandemic, they could provide people in-person with a paper voucher for the food bank.

But when coronavirus hit, some people needing support couldn’t leave their homes, and some local organisations which normally give paper vouchers couldn’t physically open safely. (more…)

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Tesco’s vital support for food banks during Covid-19

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Back at the start of April, as the full effects of the pandemic were unfolding across the UK, more and more people were needing support from food banks.

In the previous two weeks, there had already been a 81% surge in need for emergency food parcels compared to March 2019 – and as April wore on, this increased need for help would continue, with double the number of families needing help compared to the same month in 2019.

We were working closely with food banks to ensure people who couldn’t afford essentials were able to get an emergency parcel – but food banks could only continue to provide that vital lifeline if there was enough food for parcels.

It made such a difference that at the start of April Tesco pledged to support food banks in our network, independent food banks and food redistribution charity FareShare, with £15 million worth of food to ensure support could be there for people. The £500,000 of funding and support with Bags for Life also came at exactly the right time to help us support food banks during this challenging time.

During the past 12 weeks, these donations have been critical for food banks across the country, ensuring emergency support was there for anyone unable to afford food.

Tesco’s support made all the difference during the crisis – as Jon from Brixton Foodbank explains:

We don’t think this support should have been needed. Everyone should be able to afford their own food and we’re stepping up our work to end the need for food banks.

But while we do that longer-term work, we need to make sure help is available for people in crisis right now.

We are so grateful for Tesco’s support during the past 12 weeks – it was absolutely critical to making sure food banks were able to be there for people as the impact of Covid-19 first unfolded.

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Passenger donates proceeds from new album to support food banks during the coronavirus crisis

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Singer-songwriter and musician Passenger is supporting the Trussell Trust, a charity that works with a network of more than 1,200 food bank centres across the UK, by donating proceeds from his new album Patchwork to help people struggling due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Food banks have seen a huge surge in need for emergency support during the coronavirus outbreak. The Trussell Trust reports a soaring 89% increase in need for emergency food parcels during April 2020 compared to the same month last year, including a 107% rise in parcels given to children. The number of families with children receiving parcels has almost doubled compared to the same period last year.

Wherever possible, food banks are continuing to provide emergency support to people in their community in the safest way possible. Many have had to make significant changes to the way they work in order to protect the health of everyone at the food bank – whether that’s people who need the food bank, people volunteering, or people donating.

Passenger’s donation will help the Trussell Trust support food banks to continue providing emergency help safely during the crisis, while campaigning for long-term change to the drivers of need for food banks and working towards a future where everyone in the UK has enough money for essentials.

Michael said,

“Patchwork is a collection of songs that I wrote during lockdown (with the exception of the beautiful “someone you loved” by Lewis Capaldi.) It was such a strange and challenging time for me as I’m sure it was for everybody. I was living alone and as a result found myself in a very honest and vulnerable spot which is always a good place to be for writing songs from.

“I had no plan to record them as a stand-alone album but as the weeks went on and the songs kept coming it felt like a really nice thing to be able to do. All of the proceeds from the album will be donated to the Trussell Trust, which is a UK based organisation dedicated to providing food for the people who don’t have enough money for essentials, and working towards a time when such a service might not be needed.”

Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust said,

“We’re really grateful to Passenger for his support. Food banks have seen a huge surge in need as the impact of coronavirus hits people’s incomes – more and more people are struggling to cover the cost of essentials. But it doesn’t have to be like this. This can change. As a country, we can make changes which would protect people from being swept into poverty. This donation from Passenger will help us continue supporting food banks to get emergency help to people safely, while we work towards a future where everyone has enough money for essentials. Thank you so much.”

Patchwork is available from 10th July in digital format globally from all recognised retailers and from the artist website at

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“Eat out to help out” – but what about helping those going hungry at home?

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Rory Weal, Policy & Public Affairs Manager

Yesterday the Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled his ‘summer statement’. A number of eye-catching policies were announced to support the economy through what even the most optimistic predictions suggest will be the deepest recession in decades.

Interventions to protect jobs and targeted support for the hardest hit sectors featured prominently, as did measures to boost consumer spending in the form of VAT cuts and a 50% voucher discount for eating out in restaurants, cafes and pubs during August.

But this welcome focus on jobs must be matched by a renewed effort to make sure people out of work can afford the essentials.

There was little here for the millions of people already relying on our social security safety net, and the many more who will be forced to turn to it over the coming months. (more…)

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