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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.

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On the frontline: a day at a food bank during COVID-19

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A guest blog from our partners Deloitte 

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in the UK in March, Hannah Ledwold, a manager in our Risk Analytics practice and Alan Velecky, Senior Manager, Consulting, have been on secondment with the Trussell Trust. The Trussell Trust supports a nationwide network of over 1,200 food banks to provide emergency food to people who can’t afford the essentials, while working towards a future where everyone has enough money.

The Trussell Trust’s mission is to end the need for food banks by supporting people to address the root causes of poverty. Unfortunately, the need for food banks’ services is now greater than ever. They have seen an 81% increase in food parcels provided to people since the coronavirus caused lockdowns and job losses across the UK. Our two secondees have stepped in to help.

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Our nation faces a crucial fork in the road – we must choose the right path 

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Garry Lemon, director of policy and external affairs  

Our nation is at a crossroads.

The government has responded to coronavirus with unprecedented measures to support workers, businesses and self-employed people. But the stark reality many of us now face is laid bare in today’s unemployment figures, with hundreds of thousands of people falling off payrolls since March and the largest decreases in the number of self -employed ever recorded.

With the jobs retentions scheme and the self-employed income support scheme set to wind down over the coming months, there is real concern that this is just the start of a tidal wave which will sweep people into poverty and financial hardship.

What decision will we make? We can either choose to build the biggest and best lifeboats to sail people to financial safety – or risk many more people being swept into destitution if we do not invest enough to keep everyone afloat. 

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Make this £63 million the lifeline it needs to be

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Garry Lemon, Director of Policy:

Last week food banks in the Trussell Trust network provided shocking evidence of the impact of the economic storm whipped up by the Coronavirus pandemic. Over the course of April there was a huge surge in people needing support, with double the number of families needing help compared to same time last year. It was the busiest month ever at food banks.

It is clear from this immediate and ongoing surge in need for charity food parcels that though we all face the same storm, we are not all in the same boat. Despite welcome measures to boost Universal Credit and Housing Benefit, a huge number of people are still unable to stay afloat.

This simply isn’t right, and must be addressed immediately by government. To that end, the Trussell Trust is working with a coalition of anti-poverty charities to call for a Coronavirus Emergency Income Support Scheme to  ensure we all have enough money to weather the storm.

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Food isn’t the answer to people needing food banks

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Emma Revie, chief executive

In ‘normal’ times, Ruth* works every hour under the sun in catering for an events company to provide for her family. But in mid-March, before the coronavirus pandemic had reached its peak in the UK, she found herself at a food bank collecting an emergency food parcel.

She was already just getting by from one payslip to the next – but when all the events company’s bookings were cancelled and she lost her shifts, it was impossible to make ends meet.

It isn’t right that Ruth was forced to use a food bank to get by. It isn’t right that anyone in our country is forced to use a food bank to get by. Each one of us deserves the dignity of having enough money to buy the essentials we need for ourselves and our families.

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Thank you to all our amazing volunteers

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The last few weeks have been especially busy for food banks in the Trussell Trust network as the coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold. In the first two weeks of the pandemic, food banks in our network distributed a shocking 6,250 emergency food parcels every day, with 3,000 of these each day provided for children.

This isn’t right. As we work towards a future where everyone can afford their own food, it’s vital that our network continues to provide this essential community service.

And it’s volunteers that make this service possible.

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We need the government to act now

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During the last two weeks of March, food banks in our network reported a shocking 81% increase in need compared to the same period last year – that’s 6,250 food parcels each day, with 3,000 provided for children.

This isn’t right. With a coalition of anti-poverty charities, we’re calling on the government to create a Coronavirus Emergency Income Support Scheme – and in the past fortnight over 2,000 of you have emailed your MP to let them know you agree.

This amazing support is making a real difference, and it’s vital that we don’t stop now.

We’re all facing the same storm, but we aren’t all in the same boat.

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Food banks matter now more than ever – but we have the power to create change

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In the last few months, we’ve all been hit by something outside our control. As the coronavirus pandemic has swept in, its impact has been felt by all of us, in many different ways.

More and more of us are facing financial insecurity, a loss of control, an uncertainty over what our futures might look like.

But while we’re all being hit by the same storm, we’re not all in the same boat. For some, this sweeping lack of control is new and unsettling. For some, this will be a one-off occurrence from which they’ll recover. But for people living in poverty, this feeling isn’t new. It’s all too familiar.

Feeling trapped, facing limited options, and being let down by systems designed to provide support is the norm for millions of people every day.

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British Gas support is making a real difference in local communities

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In early April, Centrica and British Gas began working with the Trussell Trust to support food banks during the current coronavirus pandemic. As British Gas engineers and colleagues are currently only attending emergency and essential visits in these challenging times and a number of staff are on furlough, the company has encouraged its employees to volunteer with the Trussell Trust and offer support to food banks. You can find out more about the partnership here.

Since then, thousands of British Gas and Centrica employees have got involved and are making a real difference in their local communities by helping food banks deliver emergency supplies to people’s homes, collect and transport food donations, and sort food safely in food bank warehouses. Employees are also embracing this role at home, setting up home donation stations, buying donations for food banks when doing their own shopping, raising funds and spreading the word on social media about the work of the Trussell Trust.

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What we’re learning during the coronavirus outbreak

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In the past few weeks, a lot has changed. As the coronavirus outbreak develops, we’re all adjusting to new ways of working and living, and many of us are dealing with difficult and tragic situations. The pandemic has upended our lives and things are shifting day by day.

And yet, as we adjust to these changes, there are things we can learn from what is happening. There are things we can find comfort in. There are things we can draw hope from.

1. Our strength lies in our communities.

Across the world, communities have pulled together during this time of crisis to support others. From checking in on elderly neighbours to delivering shopping to someone in isolation, it has been inspiring to see communities working together.

The food banks in the Trussell Trust network were created by communities for communities and have always been run by local people for their local area. Now more than ever, their ability to continue to serve and support people in crisis is reliant on their local communities who have rallied to volunteer, donate, and advocate for food banks.

Though we may be physically distanced, people across the UK are working together to solve the challenges we’re facing and drawing strength from the connected communities we live in.

2. We are capable of incredible generosity.

While the news is dominated by stories of individuals stockpiling, food banks in the Trussell Trust network have witnessed nothing but generosity.

We have seen an amazing surge in support, allowing us to make sure that each and every food bank in our network receives the support they need. And thousands of you have generously volunteered your time to do what you can to help in your local area, with still more donating vital food supplies to keep food banks operational.

During this crisis, it is heart-warming to see that so many people are still so willing to give time, money, and food to support others.

3. We are resilient.

In the last few weeks, all of us have had to make changes, personally and professionally. Some of us might be working from home or furloughed. Some of us might be working more hours than ever in frontline services. Some of us might be adjusting to home-schooling or self-isolation.

But whatever adjustments are being asked of us, we’re facing up to them. The food banks in our network have faced huge changes to their ways of working, to how they obtain supplies, to what volunteers can do.

Their resilience and flexibility in the faces of such challenges is truly remarkable. Their dedication to doing whatever they can to support people in their communities, adjusting to shocks and changes quickly, shows us all what we’re capable of.

4. We can make a difference.

As individuals, we can all make a difference during the pandemic – whether it’s by volunteering or simply staying indoors. It may feel like we’re not doing enough but it really does all add up.

Without the support of the general public, the food banks in our network simply wouldn’t be able to continue to serve their communities. As the outbreak develops, it’s likely that more and more people will need to use food banks and without your support (whether it’s food, money, or time), people wouldn’t be able to access the services they so need.

Whether you’re supporting the Trussell Trust, your local food bank, or other charities, your actions have a real impact. Thank you!

 

If you want to help support food banks during the current outbreak and contribute to a future without the need for food banks, find out more about how to get involved here.

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