Statistics reveal the number of people in the Ribble Valley forced to rely on food banks to feed their family is increasing on a yearly basis.
Over 1,520 three day emergency food supplies were provided to local people in crisis by Ribble Valley Foodbank during 2016-17, compared to 1,312 in 2015-16. Of this number, 582 went to children.
The top three reasons for foodbank referral were: low income 30%; 25% benefit delays and 15% benefit changes.
Over the last year, local people have generously donated food to the foodbank and over 70 volunteered. Local schools, businesses and faith groups have provided vital support to the organisation, enabling volunteers to give three days’ nutritionally-balanced food and support to people in crisis.
Ribble Valley Foodbank shares the concerns of other Trussell Trust foodbanks in Universal Credit rollout areas about the adverse side-effects the new system can have on people. The 6+ week waiting period for a first payment can contribute to debt, mental health issues and rent arrears. The effects of these can last even after people receive their Universal Credit payments, as bills and debts pile up.
As well as providing emergency food, Ribble Valley Foodbank provides essentials like washing powder, nappies and sanitary products to families who are struggling, as well as signposting them to other services in the local area.
Ruth Haldane, Ribble Valley Foodbank Manager, said: “It is deeply concerning that we are still seeing an increase in the number of three day emergency food supplies provided to local people in crisis in the Ribble Valley over the last year.
“Anybody could find themselves in need of the foodbank. Every week people are referred to us after being hit by something unavoidable – such as illness, a delay in a benefit payment or an unexpected bill – meaning food is simply unaffordable. It really is only with the community’s support that we’re able to provide vital emergency help when it matters most, and we hope that one day there will be no need for us in the Ribble Valley, but until that day comes, we will continue to offer the best possible service to help local people facing a crisis.”