"Our Sheffield foodbanks hand out more food parcels than anywhere else in the UK - it is heartbreaking"

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Sheffield foodbanks handing out more than those in Leeds, Birmingham, Newcastle and Manchester.

People in Sheffield are receiving more foodbank parcels than anywhere else in the UK, figures from the Trussell Trust have shown.

86,220 parcels were handed out by the charity network from Steel City locations between April 2023 and March 2024, significantly more than other core cities like Birmingham (74,703) and Newcastle (66,935).

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“People in work are using foodbanks more and more and more,” said Chris Hardy, the manager of the S6 Foodbank network in Sheffield, which is part of the Trussell Trust.

“People who can’t make their paycheck stretch to the end of the month. Rents, mortgages all going up. People just can’t afford this.”

Chris Hardy from the S6 Foodbank team has said their network is only able to support so many people thanks to the generosity of Sheffield people. The city was recently revealed to be handing out the most food parcels of any other local authority area in Britain.Chris Hardy from the S6 Foodbank team has said their network is only able to support so many people thanks to the generosity of Sheffield people. The city was recently revealed to be handing out the most food parcels of any other local authority area in Britain.
Chris Hardy from the S6 Foodbank team has said their network is only able to support so many people thanks to the generosity of Sheffield people. The city was recently revealed to be handing out the most food parcels of any other local authority area in Britain. | Dean Atkins

“We all have bills that come out of the blue. Only one is needed to put you in a tailspin and that is so hard to get out of,” said Chris.

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“We have nurses coming in, people who have held down a job for 20 years are struggling to hold that money down.

“I know one lady. She is a single mum, working part-time from 9.15am to 3pm to pick the kids up. She gets a top up benefit for the kids and brings her to £1,600 per month, but her outgoings are £2,100.

Shelving full of food reaches the ceiling of the S6 Foodbank's main warehouse on Cross Burgess Street in Sheffield.Shelving full of food reaches the ceiling of the S6 Foodbank's main warehouse on Cross Burgess Street in Sheffield.
Shelving full of food reaches the ceiling of the S6 Foodbank's main warehouse on Cross Burgess Street in Sheffield. | Dean Atkins

“First week in September, her rent went up. Then, within another couple weeks her gas and electric went up. She has gone from just managing to not being able to anymore.”

Chris wanted one thing to be absolutely clear, these numbers look like numbers in newspaper reports and audits, but each and every one is a person.

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Since April 2023, the S6 Foodbank network alone has fed 68,937 people - 42,200 adults and 26,737 children. Chris says they feed more than 500 families a week, “week in, week out”.

S6 Foodbanks have fed nearly 70,000 people since April 2023. This includes around 27,000 children.S6 Foodbanks have fed nearly 70,000 people since April 2023. This includes around 27,000 children.
S6 Foodbanks have fed nearly 70,000 people since April 2023. This includes around 27,000 children. | Dean Atkins

Though, Chris provides some crucial context for those Trussell Trust figures. He said: “Over the last five years we have gone through Covid and the cost-of-living crisis and we took on lots of independent foodbanks to make sure no communities are going hungry.

“I don’t care where you’re from. I fundamentally believe that every child from every postcode should be able to become what they want to become.

“So many services have been pulled out of communities over the last 30, 40, 50 years and we want to re-establish those services in our sites.

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Chris Hardy, from S6Foodbank, said he was heartbroken there were so many families struggling in Sheffield.Chris Hardy, from S6Foodbank, said he was heartbroken there were so many families struggling in Sheffield.
Chris Hardy, from S6Foodbank, said he was heartbroken there were so many families struggling in Sheffield. | Dean Atkins

“I care about people being able to access those services. Access to public services is the issue to poverty. It’s not a food parcel, it’s access to job centres, debt advice, work, doctors. We are broken right now. As a society, we are broken and we’re now seeing it every day.

“Housing is the one thing that has always come up, More and more people are being put into Travelodges and hotels because the housing stock in Sheffield is so bad and we need to address that.

“I don’t have a fancy house, it’s just a little terraced house, but it’s dry and has a roof - some people don’t have that in our city. No kids should have to live in houses that are uninhabitable because it isn’t only about now, it’s 10 years time. These decisions will affect those kids for the rest of their lives.

“It’s so easy to say 80,000 food parcels, but when that one person is say opposite you, it’s about making everyone who comes to us feel like a million dollars.”

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What did the Trussell Trust data say?

The figures released by the Trussell Trust revealed the local authority areas where the most foodbank parcels were being handed out - with Sheffield coming out with the most (86,220) between April 2023 and March 2024.

The data also showed that 3,121,404 parcels were distributed during that time period across the country, including 1,144,096 packages for children. These figures are said to be new records for the Trussell Trust.

The number of parcels going to households with someone of pension age living in them was up 27 per cent.

Sheffield was shown to be the local authority where foodbanks were giving out the most parcels - trailed by Birmingham (74,703 parcels) and Newcastle (66,935 parcels).

Leeds handed out just under 35,900 parcels, whilst Manchester delivered more than 37,600. In London, foodbanks in the Camden authority handed out 66,776 parcels, followed by Ealing at 46,175.

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