Shetland Foodbank still very busy.
Latest statistics published today by The Trussell Trust show UK-wide foodbank figures are still increasing. Between 1st April 2016 and 31st March 2017, 1,182,954 three day emergency food supplies were provided to people in crisis in the UK. This represents a 9% increase on the 2015/16 year figure. Within Scotland 145,865 3 – day food parcels were given out during the same period.
Shetland Foodbank has also seen a small increase. 494 emergency food supplies were given to local people in the last year – this included 47 children. This is slightly up on the previous year when 480 were provided. It is important to note that Shetland Foodbank provides a week’s worth of food in each parcel (worth around £25) compared with the 3-day supply which most Trussell Trust foodbanks provide. To make local figures comparable, they need to be doubled.
Although the largest proportion of our client group lives in Lerwick, the foodbank supports people in all parts of Shetland. Living in more rural parts is often even more challenging.
The high demand locally is partly due to people struggling because of issues with benefit payments; particularly with the roll out of Universal Credit. This is despite Shetland having a lower rate of unemployment than other parts of Scotland. The increase may also be explained by an increasing awareness of the service provided by Shetland Foodbank.
Shetland Foodbank shares the concerns of other Trussell Trust foodbanks in Universal Credit rollout areas about the adverse side effects the new system can have on people. The 6+ week waiting period for a first payment can contribute to debt, mental health issues and rent arrears. The effects of these can last even after people receive their Universal Credit payments, as bills and debts pile up. The change to a monthly payments system also puts greater budgeting pressure on recipients. Shetland Foodbank is working hard to stop local people affected going hungry.
As well as providing emergency food, Shetland Foodbank provides essentials like washing powder, nappies and sanitary products to clients, as well as signposting them to other services in the local area. In particular Shetland Foodbank has been working closely with the local Citizens’ Advice Bureau to provide services such as welfare advice, budgeting help and debt support, helping people to break out of crisis.
Over the last year, local people have donated more than 8 tonnes of food to Shetland Foodbank. Local schools, businesses and churches have provided vital support to the foodbank, enabling us to give nutritionally balanced food parcels to people in crisis. Looked at in cash terms these donations are estimated to be worth almost £13,500 (based on a value of £1.68 per kg of food donations which is the value used by the Trussell Trust nationally).
David Grieve, Foodbank Manager of Shetland Foodbank said “It is deeply concerning that we are still seeing an increase in the number of emergency food supplies provided to local people in crisis in Shetland over the last year”.
“Anybody could find themselves in need of the foodbank. Every week people are referred to us after being hit by something unavoidable and unexpected such as illness, redundancy, a delay in a benefit payment or an unexpected bill which means food is simply unaffordable.”
It really is only with the community’s support that we are able to provide this vital emergency help when it matters most. We hope that one day there will be no need for foodbanks, but until that day comes, we will continue to offer the best possible service to help local people facing a crisis.
Despite generous donations of food, there are many hidden costs to running the foodbank. Costs include overheads like rent, electricity and telephone bills, and insurance costs.
Shetland Foodbank receives regular monthly financial donations from a small number of supporters – if you would like to be one of them, please contact the foodbank.
Foodbank Manager, David Grieve “wants to offer his most sincere thanks to everyone in Shetland who so generously donates time, food and money to help local people. If you’re not already involved, we’d love to hear from you!”
Local businesses, organisations and individuals interested in supporting the foodbank’s work can get in touch at the foodbank. Tel 741263.