Food for Thought: Are you helping your local foodbank this Christmas?

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Poverty and homelessness in the UK are rising year on year, with estimates from the homeless charity ‘Crisis’ of 24,000 rough sleepers countrywide in 2018. These numbers can only be an underestimation since rough sleeping is an incalculable figure. Homelessness does not only cover rough sleepers.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) said that 84,750 households were in temporary accommodation in Britain in 2018, places such as hostels, B&Bs, and other forms of housing that they were unable to call home. This figure is the highest number since 2007, and these households contain over 100,000 children and young people. Still, these figures only account for the homes that the government have deemed homeless, and not those 14 million who live in poverty every day, and those who struggle to make ends meet every week.

In Lancaster, it is estimated by the MHCLG that there is one rough sleeper for every 1,000 households. Still, this data is based only off a one evening spot check where only four rough sleepers were recorded on Lancaster’s streets. Paul Nobet, head of public affairs at homelessness charity Centrepoint, warned that many more hidden homeless people were living in unsafe accommodation, who are unrecorded in the rough sleeper count.

In the run-up to Christmas, throughout November and December, for those who celebrate the festive season, it is a time for thinking what to ask for, thinking about that incredible Christmas dinner that they will face and that Gavin and Stacey Christmas special. For others, the only thing plaguing their minds is how they’re going to feed themselves and their children.

That’s where food banks come in. Millions of people rely on food banks all year round, not just Christmas-time. The North West is the most foodbank dependent region in the UK, making donations all the more critical.

Morecambe Bay’s foodbank is part of a nationwide network, supported by The Trussell Trust. They work to combat poverty and hunger across the UK.

On the 15th November, Morecambe Bay Foodbank reported that they experienced their busiest day of the year, with fifty people receiving food for themselves and their families.

They said, ‘This is not a cause for celebration. On the contrary, we think that it’s an illustration of how badly the system needs to change, and along with the Trussell Trust nationally, we would call on whoever wins the election to do the three things that we know will make the most difference to our clients:

  • End the five-week wait for Universal Credit
  • Ensure that benefits cover the cost of living
  • Invest in local emergency support for people in crisis.’

Lancaster University’s foodbank collection group donates 4 tonnes of food monthly to the people of the surrounding areas, putting the food on their plates in their times of need. Volunteers brave the cold and travel around campus, collecting non-perishable items that are sitting disused and forgotten about at the back of kitchen cupboards. They also have many donation points in town, including Asda and Sainsbury’s, where shoppers can drop off their unneeded food tins.

If you would like to donate unused perishable items to the on-campus food collection, there are drop off points in the colleges, LEC, BLS and the Sociology department.

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