How did we get to this? Foodbank use remains at record high.

As the use of Foodbank continues to rise, why are people struggling to feed themselves in one of the richest countries on the planet?

On Wednesday night at the Tawney Dialogue, the shadow chancellor John McDonnell MP spoke of having begun his political career 40 years ago with the sense of optimism shared by his generation that we would have steady progress towards a better life for all. Instead, we find ourselves with “staggering levels of inequality” – he told the stories of people in his own constituency who have experienced benefit sanctions, housing problems and even found themselves without food on the table.

“How did we get to this?”

Today, the Trussell Trust have published their latest figures, showing that foodbank use remains at record levels, rising two percent on 2014-15 levels. For the second year running, over a million three-day emergency supply packages were given out by the organisation’s foodbanks across the country, and 40% of those went to children. In a political climate of austerity and increasingly harsh cuts to welfare, the figures also show that benefit delays and changes accounted for 42% of referrals.

Reasons for Foodbank use

The Trussell Trust have worked with data scientists and academics from the University of Hull to create the UK’s first foodbank data mapping tool to illustrate the countrywide picture. Early findings from this project reinforce Trussell Trust data which show benefit problems and low income to be the most significant drivers of foodbank use in the UK. It also shows a clear link between foodbank use and geographic areas of high deprivation.

The map of the UK which they have created is, at first glance, a map of where we have got it most wrong as a country. There are heat spots showing where economic deprivation, poor health and foodbank use all collide. The map also charts the crisis points which led individuals to use foodbanks, showing graphically the impact of benefit changes and delays, area by area.

It is also, however, a map which show we are trying to get it right. The red dots across representing foodbanks show 424 churches and local communities giving time and food to those who need it. 90% of the food given out by the charity is donated by the public. Many of the foodbanks also partner with local charities and agencies to provide debt counselling, housing support, legal advice, clothing and other services. Christians are showing up where it is needed most, offering practical help in times of crisis.

Trussell Trust Latest Figures

As John McDonnell reminded us, austerity is not just an economic theory, it’s a hard political choice which we’re living out. The people whose lives are most affected by it are real, not theoretical. The Work & Pensions Secretary, Stephen Crabb MP, recently said that ‘behind every statistic is a human being and perhaps sometimes in government we forget that’. Behind today’s shocking statistics from the Trussell Trust are hundreds of thousands of human beings, affected by welfare cuts and the benefit system. For these individuals, forgetting the human element is not something this, or any government, should ever be allowed to do.

So now, as Christians, how will we take action? Many of us are those already running foodbanks, or donating goods, or even campaigning noisily against austerity. For surely it is our role to ensure that the government does not forget the individual lives behind these dismaying statistics?

And yet how much more change could we effect, if we were the ones on the inside, making these decisions?

So don't just complain, write letters or shout from the sidelines – get involved – be a candidate – SHOW UP.

Watch the fantastic SHOW UP 2.0 Video below, join Christians on the Left here and contact us here.



The Full Trussell Trust Report can be found here:



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Showing 3 reactions

commented 2016-07-26 17:21:18 +0100 · Flag
Why would God cause bread to run out for the poor?
There is enough bread for us all if we share!
commented 2016-06-17 10:03:58 +0100 · Flag
How did we get to this? “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” There is the answer, played out over a century of increasing godlessness. The answer proposed in this piece is to out Oxfam Oxfam, and to man more foodbanks than the secularlists, while the remnant who have not bowed the knee to Baal, and courageously proclaim the Kingdom of God and His righteousness as their Victorian forbears did, are vilified, ostracised, marginalised, disenfranchised and incarcerated! The Kingdom solution is ignored, even by the Church, while the dosage of the failed medicine of the world is increased in a futile attempt to treat the symptoms, whilst ignoring the cause! John McDonnell may be well intentioned, but his solutions will reduce us further along the well trodden path to Venezuela! If Christians are really concerned for the plight of the poor, give them the Bread of Life along with the Warburtons, or one day, the Warburtons will run out!
commented 2016-04-15 16:17:14 +0100 · Flag
I’m all for people getting involved in politics, and for Christians standing for elections, but campaigning for change, writing letters and emails to MPs etc is also ‘showing up.’ Part of the problem we face at the moment is people’s alienation from the political process, and conveying however subtly that the only way to ‘do politics’ is through joining a political party risks exacerbating the situation.

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As the use of Foodbank continues to rise, why are people struggling to feed themselves in one of the richest countries on the planet?

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