The number of people being referred to Greater Manchester food banks has spiked in the last year – with Salford seeing a 450% increase, according to new figures.
The figures from the Trussell Trust, co-ordinator of the UK’s only network of food banks, highlight the intensity of the increase in and around Greater Manchester.
In food banks which had comparable figures in the area, all but one showed an increase of at least double in the number of people receiving three days of emergency food.
The Salford Central food bank saw the largest percentage increase in the Greater Manchester.
More than 300 people (314) were referred in the year commencing April 1 2012 while 1,734 individuals went to the centre between April 1 and December 31 2013 – an increase of more than 452%.
The food bank that recorded the largest increase in terms of actual volume was Farnsworth and Kearsley, in Bolton.
The organisation saw a total of 599 children and adults walk through its doors from April 1 2012 until March 31 2013.
In a shorter period, from April 1 2013 to December 31 2013, the total number of children and adults had shot up to 3,027 – an increase of just over 388%.
Chris Mould, Chairman of the Trussell Trust told MM: “There are two issues highlighted by these increasing numbers.
“It’s clear to see that people in crisis are getting help and we are pleased with that.
“However, what these figures do show is that people simply do not have enough money at the moment. It’s as basic as that.”
The Trussell Trust is a Christian charity that opened up its first food bank in a Salisbury shed in 2000 and, following on from this, created a food bank franchise.
This now works as a business model run by the community for the community as non-perishable food is donated to a food bank and then volunteers help to pack, sort and distribute the food.
Since 2004, the charity has opened up 400 food banks nationwide.
“We are working towards less people coming to our food banks all the time but we do need to help the most vulnerable,” Mr Mould said.
“We’re all trying to work towards the same direction.”
Those in crisis who receive food are able to do so after being given vouchers from various frontline care professionals such as doctors and social care workers.
Less than 5% of those that are referred to the food banks are homeless; the majority are working families that simply do not have enough food.
At a Stockport food bank, the figure for the April 2012 to March 2013 period stood at 2,745 but made a dramatic leap to 5,351 in April to December 2013.
Even banks that have not been open for very long are seeing large footfall such as Manchester Central food that only opened in October 2013 and has provided for 262 people already.
Mr Mould believes the Government could do more to help those struggling make ends meet.
“We believe that the controversial bedroom tax, for example, is putting people into difficulty for what is, ultimately, a small amount of money being saved by the Government,” he said.
“There are also welfare support struggles that are just unhelpful to people and contribute to their need to resort to food banks for help.”
For more information on how to donate to The Trussell Trust, or for a food bank in your area, click here.
Image courtesy of Staffs.Live, via Flickr, with thanks.