Our work in Northern Ireland

We’re working to end the need for emergency food provision in Northern Ireland – find out what we’re doing and how you can get involved.

Within the unique cultural, historical and political context of Northern Ireland (NI) there are clear opportunities to realise our vision to end the need for food banks.

Speak to us to find out more

The rising need for food banks in Northern Ireland

There are 23 food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network in NI, distributing parcels at 49 locations across all six counties. Northern Ireland is the smallest region in the Trussell Trust network but between 1 April and 30 September 2023 these food banks distributed 39,300 emergency parcels to people in Northern Ireland, including 16,700 for children.

This represents a 23% increase from last year and a 175% increase compared to the same period five years ago. Between 1 April and 30 September 2023 almost 10,000 people in Northern Ireland were forced to turn to a food bank in the Trussell Trust network for the first time.

Read our latest report, Hunger in Northern Ireland.

It’s not right that people in our community are needing a charity’s help to put food on the table. Everyone in Northern Ireland should be able to afford the essentials.

Jonny Currie, Northern Ireland Network Lead

Our strategy in Northern Ireland

People need food banks when they don’t have enough income for the essentials. In Northern Ireland we’re developing a new strategy that includes offering strategic grants to food banks to support their communities and identifying millions in income for people facing financial hardship.

Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland1. We need a long-term plan to address poverty in Northern Ireland
Emergency food parcels and fuel payments are not enough to eradicate hunger long-term. The Northern Ireland Executive has the power to eradicate poverty and can do this through the development of a long-term strategy. The NI Executive has already agreed to this, but it still needs to be approved.

2. We must ensure that everyone can buy the food and essentials they need for themselves
Raising income and reducing costs is always preferable to the provision of emergency food. When people in financial hardship can’t afford the essentials, they should be able to access immediate support. Cash-based approaches are preferred by families with low-incomes because of their flexibility, dignity, safety and convenience.

3. There must be support for local services to ensure people get help at the right time
Accessing emergency food should be a last resort, yet households with low incomes often face significant barriers when trying to access support. Independent advice and other related services should be properly resourced and offered in a consistent and co-ordinated way so people can access the support they need in one place rather than being passed from one agency to the next.

4. The experience of people with lived experience of hunger and poverty should help shape the services they need
The experiences of people affected by poverty must inform the co-design of better policy solutions. It is also important to work with food bank staff and volunteers to end the need for food banks. Food banks know and serve their communities and can support transformation to address the underlying drivers of food bank use.

Get in contact

To find out more or to discuss ways in which you can play a vital and active role in supporting our work, please get in contact with our dedicated teams:

Follow @Trussell_NI on Twitter for the latest updates on our work in Northern Ireland.