3616 reasons the food bank is needed!
For statistical purposes the food bank keeps a record of usage. For this purpose we use the year beginning April 1 to March 31. This year has just ended and the totals are in! It’s another year of the same old same old.
During the period in question we have fed a total of 3616 people, (2451 adults and 1165 children under the age of 16). In terms of performance we have succeeded in our stated aim of supporting our local community and the wider area of Sandwell! We have achieved this thanks to the generosity of individuals, churches, local business and Sandwell Council who, over the year, have all supported the work we do. West Bromwich Community Church has, as always, supported us by allowing the church to be open three afternoons per week and to be used as a drop in centre.
We received 1799 referrals from partner agencies and each referral stated the main reason for needing support. Although March 2018 was a low month in terms of referrals/numbers fed the reasons were:
- 3 x benefit changes
- 16 x benefit delays
- 5 x benefit sanctions
- 4 x debt
- 2 x domestic abuse
- 21 x DWP referrals (The job centre do not give a specific reason for referring clients but they are all to do with benefit issues)
- 27 x financial hardship
- 5 x homeless
- 20 x low income
- 11 x nil income
- 3 x other (This category is used when the reasons given do not fit a specific reason)
- 15 x unemployed
- 2 x universal credit delays (This category was introduced as universal credit is beginning to affect residents of Sandwell, although it is not due to be rolled out fully until November 2018)
So, in these figures, we have another year of misery and despair. 3616 people who would have gone hungry. 3616 people who, if you sat down and really talked to them you would discover many underlying issues which led to the lack of finance. Then you come to the question of what do your clients deal with first, the food issue, the health issue? It’s not just an issue of people being hungry and unable to afford food.
3616 people going hungry in Sandwell and that’s just the ones we see at our food bank, and we are not the busiest. There are at least four other food banks in Sandwell! Replicate those figures across the country at the estimated 800+ food banks and you are suddenly into big figures running into the hundreds of thousands. We are now into the 21st century, in one of the richest countries in the world and we still have not eradicated poverty and its root causes. It’s not good enough!