Foodbank use soars as families feel the pinch in city

Project manager Hannah Worsley . PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Project manager Hannah Worsley . PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

Demand for foodbanks is rising in the city as the cost of living begins to take a noticeable grip on society. 

The Phoenix Hub in Mile Cross is seeing an additional five to 10 households requesting emergency food supplies from the centre each week. 

Energy and fuel prices are rising while rents in Norwich have surged by 8.9pc over the last 12 months as families struggle to make ends meet. 

Ally McClagish, a volunteer at the Phoenix Hub, said there are more than 70 people in the NR3 area approaching the foodbank for support every Friday when the collections are available from 10am to 1.30pm. 

Trussell Trust research finds that one in ten parents will need to use a foodbank in the next three months. 

Demand for foodbanks is increasing during the cost of living crisis - Credit: Julie Brociek-Coulton

She said: "We have noticed a steady increase in the last two to three months. It's now probably on a par with the peak pandemic period.

"We do see the regulars come every week but there are some who really need the help but are just too proud to ask for help and do not want to be reliant on it." 

The Phoenix Centre on Mile Cross Road. Picture: Denise Bradley

The Phoenix Centre on Mile Cross Road. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Archant 2013

It comes as a 'Norwich Demands Better' public meeting took place at The Forum in the city centre on Monday evening in response to the cost of living crisis. 

This is ahead of the Trades Union Congress organising a 'We Demand Better' march and rally in London on June 18. 

Mile Cross county councillor Chrissie Rumsby - who is a trustee of the Phoenix Centre - was among those speaking at The Forum, alongside representative of other unions. 

Chrissie Rumsby, Labour county councillor for Mile Cross in Norwich, in the Phoenix Centre kitchen.

Chrissie Rumsby, Labour county councillor for Mile Cross in Norwich, in the kitchen preparing meals at the Phoenix Centre on the estate for families. - Credit: Simon Floyd

"The need is on the increase," she said. "The demographics of people is changing. It's pensioners and people employed on low wages. 

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"If nothing meaningful is done soon it will be back to the 1930s soup kitchen, long-term poor physical and mental health." 

Glen Springett, who organised the meeting, said: "People who traditionally had good jobs are struggling. We are seeing nurses and people who keep our streets clean fighting for better terms and conditions." 

Glen Springett 

Glen Springett - Credit: Contributed

Laurie Heselden, regional policy and campaigns officer for the TUC, added: "The first hand testimony we have from foodbanks is that the level of demand for three day emergency food parcels has increased immensely in recent months.

Laurie Heselden, of Trades Union Congress

Laurie Heselden, of Trades Union Congress - Credit: Laurie Heselden

"And just as telling, the morale of those applying for emergency food parcels has been smashed." 

Why are prices rising? 

The ‘cost of living crisis’ refers to the fall in disposable incomes across the UK.

Gas prices have soared due to increased demand for gas from Asia, depleted gas storage supplies in Europe, unexpected outages in Liquified Natural Gas production and the war between Ukraine and Russia.

Disruption was caused to global supply chains during the pandemic as factories were shut down. This has since been exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

Russia's President Vladimir Putin has launched a "full-scale" invasion of Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to invade Ukraine has affected gas prices - Credit: Tass/PA Images

Many global companies were left with no choice but to stop business in Russia either to comply with economic sanctions or due to reputational risk.

European industrial production has also declined due to a shortage of essential parts from Ukraine which affects both agricultural commodities and car parts.