A Sheffield foodbank is now supporting EIGHT times more people than it did a year ago
From helping 150 people a week a year ago, the S6 Foodbank network is now supporting 1,200 people a week across Sheffield.
The Trussell Trust food bank, which is run by St Thomas’ Church, saw the numbers using its services spiral when the pandemic hit
Volunteer Alison Wise today revealed the huge scale of ever increasing burden on the foodbanks she says are just a sticking plaster over deeper social issues.
She said: "It’s staggering. As we all know over the past year the pandemic, people on furlough, being made redundant, all those things have contributed.
“Partially as well some of the smaller foodbanks in other locations were no longer able to keep up with demand.
“Because our food bank is slightly bigger we are organised differently and have better buying and options through Tesco and things like that we have absorbed some of the smaller food banks.
“There has been a little resistance from some of the foodbanks who wanted to stay independent but it just wasn’t feasible in terms of demand.”
The S6 foodbank network has gone from four sites a year ago to recently opening up its 12th.
Having previously concentrated around the S6 and S10 areas, there are now foodbanks at Woodhouse, the Megacentre, Sharrow, Firth Park, Parsons Cross and Abourthorne.
"Demand is growing hugely,” said Alison, who says the pandemic has exacerbated a lot of the social issues that already existed.
If you had insecure work and zero hours then you could perhaps just get by before, whereas now there is literally no work.
She said: “It is really sad and it feels strange to be talking about such a huge increase because usually that would be something to celebrate, whereas for us it’s worrying because our concern is that when furlough ends and if they take away the extra £20 uplift on Universal Credit, what is that going to do to the numbers?
“If that £20 extra is just allowing people to get by when that goes will it send the numbers rocketing again?”
The Trussell Trust released its national figures this week which showed that across the whole country there had been a 33 per cent increase in the number of people being supported compared with a year ago.
Sheffield’s numbers are significantly higher because the network has taken on additional sites.
“From five years ago the increase across the country is about 128 per cent, which is staggering,” said Alison. “It is almost too big to get your head around.”
S6 Foodbank launched a new year-long fundraising campaign this month, with an ambitious target of raising £150,000. The campaign aims to enable the charity to continue to support around 1000 people each week from across the city with emergency food parcels, which equates roughly to a million meals.
The new fundraising campaign, ‘For All Sheffield’, reflects the changing nature of foodbank provision in the city over the past twelve months. Donations made to S6 Foodbank are distributed across much of the city, with 13 tonnes of food processed through the main warehouse site on Gilpin St each week. A year ago, the figure was just 1.7 tonnes.
Alison said S6 Foodbank manager manager Chris Hardy set up the foodbank about eight years ago and he thought it would be gone within five years, that it was a short term social blip linked to austerity.
She said: “It seems weird to think now we have a comms and social media lead making it something that we need to market ourselves.
“Nobody wants to be doing this . We don’t want to have to be in the press and get corporate support but there’s no way we can expect everyday people to to continue to support and while the people of Sheffield are hugely generous and always have been it is too big for that now.
“We have great support from the Milestone Group, Sheffield Wednesday have been great for us but at the moment the matches aren’t on and we can’t have collections there.
“We have lots of pockets of support, lots of supermarkets independents like Beanies, Barratt Organics on Sharrowvale Road, and the schools are amazing.
“We just need that kick on and some more corporate donors.”
The Trussel Trust has been lobbying the Government with the catchphrase ‘A Hunger Free Future’
“The problem is we are putting a sticking plaster over issues such as benefits which are fit for purpose, it’s around secure work and an increase in the minimum wage so people don’t have to rely on charity,” said Alison.
“People should be able to afford the cost of living.
“Before the pandemic we used to be able to meet people At the moment we have a phone line to give support and guidance. We used to have a worker from Citizens Advice who came down every week all that kind of wrap round hub support we’re just not able to do at the moment . a big part of what we do is to help people move away from foodbanks . We are hoping to open that back up in the not too distant future and have face to face appointments.
“We have phone line where people can either be referred or self refer.
“For some people we are the last resort. It is also a place of hope we have a lot of fun there and letting people offload what has been going on. As a volunteer that is very rewarding."
Donations to the S6 Foodbank can be made here https://justgiving.com/campaign/forallsheffield