Foodbank warns of winter spike as bills soar and benefits are cut

Project manager Hannah Worsley . PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Norwich foodbank project manager Hannah Worsley - Credit: Nick Butcher

A foodbank is bracing itself for a spike in demand this winter as households face a perfect storm of financial pressures.

Norwich foodbank hands out 800 parcels a month, which is less than the 1,200 it gave out at the height of the pandemic.

But despite the demand going back to pre-lockdown levels, Norwich foodbank project manager Hannah Worsley said people who receive parcels were already worried about the loss of the £20 Universal Credit top up, a rise in National Insurance contributions and soaring energy and food bills.

The end of furlough payments was also a concern to many.

Mrs Worsley, who helps co-ordinate 100 volunteers across seven distribution sites and a main warehouse, said: "We do expect demand to go up in November, December and January.

"Costs of living have gone up and people have not got enough money to pay the bills. Sometimes the food parcels are being given out as a one-off because people cannot make ends meet. 

"But we are seeing more longer-term cases rather than quick fixes. We are concerned.

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"When people come to us for there is a sense of relief that someone cares and can do something to help but they also cannot believe they need that food."

She added that the Norwich foodbank, which is part of the Trussell Trust, helped a wide range of people, including those in work, and many who it helped were facing delays in benefit payments.

The loss of the £20 Universal Credit payment was also a blow to many as that amounted to a cut for people who only started receiving it in the pandemic.

Mrs Worsley said the fuel crisis has also stopped people from getting to distribution centres for emergency parcels which are given out through a referral basis.

The manager added the Trussell Trust ideally wanted the need for foodbanks to end and said "more needs to be done" in terms of overall government policy.

Norwich foodbank started in 2010 and Mrs Worsley praised the support of people and organisations who donated items during the lockdowns, as well as its volunteers.

It is in need of long-life products and instant mash potato and to find out how to donate visit www.norwichfoodbank.co.uk, call 03003651123 or email admin@norwich.foodbank.org.uk


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