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Exclusive – Foodbank use in Norwich soars

Foodbank use in Norwich during the last year has soared as some residents of Norwich are increasingly struggling to afford food.

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Norwich foodbank has announced that demand for support has increased by 69 per cent on this time last year. In the last 12 months 9614 local people had been given food including 3149 children in the year to 28 February 2014. Figures produced by the foodbank show that it has experienced eleven consecutive months of increased demand since March 2013.

Over 2000 more adults and an additional 1267 children required support from the foodbank compared to 12 months ago. In a report released in February 2013 by the Campaign to End Child Poverty, Norwich was named as the local authority with the highest percentage of children in poverty. According to a report released by the Ministry of Education, over a fifth of children in Norwich were eligible for free school meals in 2012 which represents the highest in Norfolk.

Norwich foodbank has 11 food distribution centres and is the largest of its kind the East of England. The local Christian charity provides three days’ nutritionally balanced non-perishable food to people in crisis. The Norwich foodbank aims to help people break out of poverty rather than create dependency on a foodbank. In an additional function they also signpost clients to other agencies able to help resolve the underlying cause of the crisis.

Grant Habershon, Norwich foodbank project co-ordinator said: “The Norwich foodbank has seen a significant increase in demand each year since it gave out its first foodbox in October 2010. With rising food and fuel prices combined with static incomes, unemployment, reduced working hours and significant changes to benefits, our care agency contacts warn us they expect to have to refer even more local people in crisis to us in 2014. This means we unfortunately have had to plan to provide food for around 12,000 local people this year alone.

Simon Wright, MP for Norwich South said: “we must work tirelessly in every way possible to tackle poverty in the city. It’s great that unemployment continues to fall in Norwich, as getting people into work is the best way of tackling disadvantage.”

“One of the biggest problems has been delays in processing benefits, but these delays are now falling”, Mr Wright claimed.

Last summer the Chancellor, George Osborne, announced plans to make people wait seven days before they can claim the job seeker’s allowance. Also the Government’s decision to change the payments system by which disabled claimants receive benefits has caused severe delays in payments to recipients.

Last Autumn Mr Wright claimed that “the economy is finally recovering”.

Clive Lewis, Labour Parliamentary candidate for Norwich South, said: “foodbank use is a strategy of last resort for folk in Norwich. People are proud, and will tend to use them only once they’ve cut back on everything they can, and once exhausted all other possible avenues of support.

“So such an increase shows just how desperate thousands of families, and children have become under this government”, he added.

Over 95% of food given out by Norwich foodbank is donated directly by the public and the foodbank is aiming to collect 90 tonnes of food, toiletries, nappies and baby milk in 2014 to meet the expected need. Currently Norwich foodbank is providing help to over 3,000 children and over 6,000 adults per month.

If you would like to help the Norwich foodbank please telephone 01603 251733 or email admin@norwich.foodbank.org.uk

28/03/2014

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andrewansell



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