Updated: Friday, 29th May 2020 @ 6:20am

'People are desperate': Cuts and benefits delays to blame for 65% of referrals to Salford food banks

'People are desperate': Cuts and benefits delays to blame for 65% of referrals to Salford food banks

| By Charlotte Court

Benefit cuts and delays in payment are responsible for more than 65% people being referred to food banks in Salford, new figures have shown. 

Data collated by Salford Central food bank every time an individual is referred to them for three days’ emergency food has highlighted benefit money problems as the biggest reason for a person’s crisis.

In the four months of 2014 alone, 65.6% of people referred to Salford Central were there as a result of changes or delays to a number of benefits including employment, housing and universal credit.

This figure has risen from 61.72% in the 2013-2014 financial year.

Last month, Mancunian Matters reported that food banks in and around the Greater Manchester area had seen a spike in the number of people visiting, with Salford Central referrals increasing by 450%.

Individuals suffering from financial pressures are also often struggling with the stress of their situation.

Salford Central food bank co-ordinator, Scott Tulloch, was keen to stress that the services food banks provide also extend to talking to people and helping to build their confidence: assistance that is often overlooked.   

“When people come to us we talk to them, assess what their problems are and then give them opportunities, outlets and support places from which they can get further help,” Mr Tulloch said.

“A lot of people who come to us feel isolated and lonely and we provide a friendly voice for them to talk to. It’s amazing how true the adage is of a problem shared is a problem halved.”

The food banks also use the information they receive from their referrals to create bespoke food parcels that are tailored to specific individuals.

“When we put a food parcel together, it’s important that we include goods that that person will be able to use,” Mr Tulloch said.

“Will they have the means and money to cook or will they need food that they can access instantly? Factors such as whether they have a cooker and if they have enough money to pay the electricity meter are all things that need to be accessed,” he continued.

In addition to providing instant support, food banks also signpost individuals to other organisations to try to aid them further and tackle the bigger problem that has led them to their crisis situation.

Although Salford Central food bank works in conjunction with 55 partner agencies in the area and uses those to signpost people to get further help, Mr Tulloch believes there are not enough support networks to help people with their long-term problems.

“Food banks are not here to sustain,” Mr Tulloch said. “We are here to help in times of crisis.

“People cannot rely on food banks as a long-term solution but there is not enough of a support network to tackle those larger issues to help them resolve that.

“The problem is that there is less support for people going through hardships and less ways for people to pull themselves out of the problems they are in.

“People are often desperate when they come to us but there is not always somewhere for them to turn.”

For more information about your nearest food bank go to: www.trusselltrust.org

Image courtesy of Jacqui Brown, with thanks.