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Foodbank Conference 2016

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Being part of The Trussell Trust Foodbank Network means the chance to attend our foodbank conference every year. It’s always a great day as foodbanks come together to be inspired, learn from and encourage one another, with this year’s conference including a keynote speech from Martin Lewis. Here’s what happened…

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Foodbanks and Buses: what’s the link?

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Imagine you’re a mum living in the capital, juggling a new job with two young children.  For the last few weeks your husband hasn’t been given many hours by the company he works for, and it’s going to be a couple of weeks until you’re paid. While you’re waiting for that first pay packet, your husband’s limited hours alone just won’t cover the cost of bringing up a young family.

Something’s got to give.

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Who are the UK’s 1.25 million destitute people?

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“I can’t remember the last time we had a square meal as a family. I’ll make something for the kids and pretend I’m eating later, because I don’t want them to know I go without so they don’t have to. It’s hard to get even basic food. It’s making a decision between that and something else – do you put that £5 in the electric or gas because it’ll be freezing otherwise, or put it into food so the kids can eat?”

For Anna, juggling the care of her severely autistic son and dealing with depression after escaping an abusive relationship is a daily struggle. And it’s made so much worse because she has little to live on. She is just one of thousands of people who have been referred to a foodbank in the last year, and when she arrived and sat down with a cup of tea to talk to the volunteers, it became clear food wasn’t the only thing she was struggling to afford. 

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Foodbank stats: One million too many

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1,109,309.

That’s the amount of three-day emergency food supplies our network of 424 foodbanks gave out to people in crisis during 2015/16, with 415,866 of those having gone to children.

“One million three-day food supplies given out by our foodbanks every year is one million too many. This must not become the new normal. We need to listen to the experiences of people facing hunger and poverty, and work to find solutions to this problem together.” – CEO, David McAuley

It’s a 2% increase on our foodbank figures released this time last year, when we first crossed the one million mark. And it’s happened again.

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At the foodbank just six weeks before her twins were due

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“I never thought this would happen to us – we were both working, we’ve paid our taxes… If it wasn’t for the foodbank I don’t know what we would’ve done. I want to work again, that would sort everything out. Then we could prepare for the babies, get our house back. I don’t even have a hospital bag ready at the moment”

Last week, our foodbank was visited by Anna*, just six weeks before her twins were due. They will be her first children, and she and her partner currently have no home to call their own. They have been sofa surfing for the last few weeks because they hit financial difficulty when her antiques business collapsed and they were evicted from their home. Anna’s partner hasn’t been able to get enough contract work to support them.

It will soon be Mother’s Day, a day when families come together to celebrate the wonderful sacrifices that Mothers make for their children and loved ones.  Gifts are often given, and perhaps a celebratory breakfast or lunch has been arranged.  For many mothers though, it will again be a day when the stark reality of parenting in poverty is deeply felt.

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As the cold bites, foodbanks give hope

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‘It’s a suitably chilly morning to usher in Fuel Poverty Awareness Day 2016; a day primarily designed for those of us (like me) whose central heating clicked on unthinkingly at 6am to ensure the rush to work and school took place in glowing warmth, with plentiful hot water for showers and enough gas and electricity to cook scrambled eggs on toast for five. How lovely.

Others, of course, don’t need their awareness raised at all. They are among the 4.5million people in the UK who the government says are ‘fuel poor’, who most likely woke up in the cold, got dressed in the cold, and will later go to bed in the cold.’

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Random Acts of Kindness are helping people in crisis

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“I had never been to a foodbank before and wasn’t sure what to expect… I just wanted to thank you all so much.I felt rather overwhelmed but only because of the genuine kindness and generosity of everyone there… I can’t tell you how relieved I am to know that my children are going to be able to eat okay.”

Natalie left this note for the volunteers at the foodbank after she visited with her little boy.

Like many others who struggle in silence, she had hit a crisis point where she couldn’t afford enough food. It’s distressing and depressing to face hunger, especially when you have children, but thanks to small acts of kindness from so many different people, the foodbank was able to be there for this mum.

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Your kindness at Christmas has a real impact on people struggling the most

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It’s Christmas Eve, and this morning I delivered the last two of three hundred Christmas hampers. I don’t work for Harrods, or M&S, or anyone else who might spring to mind when you think about hamper deliveries; I work for Salisbury Foodbank. And each one of these three hundred hampers will go to families and individuals who are struggling to put food on the table this Christmas.

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Ministers need to admit that benefits problems are linked to foodbank use

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David Prior (Lord Prior of Brampton) is no toff, he’s a modest man. He had a career in merchant banking then another in the steel industry. In his previous Parliamentary incarnation he was a diligent constituency Member for a not very affluent part of Norfolk. Like most Parliamentarians, he was a good deal closer to ‘real people’ than any departmental officials, journalists, special advisers or spin-doctors. Leaving The House hors de combat in 2001, he pursued a thoughtful and blameless life in the NHS and in education. Now he is a Health Minister. He knows about statistics.

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Hunger in the UK – Do You Really Believe It’s True?

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Today’s Feeding Britain 2015-16 report by a cross-party group of MPs, led by the impressive Frank Field, highlights the ‘tragedy’ that there are still people across our country going hungry.

Really, just stop and think about that for a moment. There are people in our country, in your town, hey, maybe even in your street, going hungry today. Do you believe it’s true? Do you wonder how it’s possible?

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