Food banks hand out 10,000 crisis parcels
Almost 10,000 emergency food parcels have been handed out by food banks in the Black Country, Staffordshire and Wyre Forest during six months.
Latest figures from the Trussell Trust showed its network of charities are continuing to be busy helping families that are struggling to make ends meet.
Delays in benefits and changes to the system remain the biggest cause of someone being referred to a food bank by a doctor, social worker or jobcentre.
Many food banks have seen an increase in the number of people turning to them for help.
Overall, Trussell Trust charity food banks in Walsall North, Great Barr, Smethwick, Quinton and Oldbury, Cannock and District, Rugeley and Kidderminster gave out 9,829 parcels of three-day emergency supplies between April and September this year.
Although overall the number was down on the same period last year, when 10,776 parcels were given out, many have seen demand either rise or stay at around the same level.
But the charity is concerned the situation will worsen in the months leading to Christmas when demand for food traditionally spikes.
There was an increase at Walsall North with total visitors rising from 760 to 869.
Quinton and Oldbury also saw a rise in demand, giving out 989 parcels between April and September 2017 compared with the same six-month period in 2016.
At Great Barr, volunteers saw fewer supplies handed out with numbers down from 1,096 to 869. It was the same at Kidderminster where there was a slight decrease from 1,566 to 1,527 and at Cannock and District where numbers fell from 1,963 to 1,850.
While at Rugeley the amount of visitors has remained at a steady level, with volunteers giving out 890 parcels between April and September 2017, compared with 899 during the same six months last year.
Overall, the Trussell Trust’s food bank network in the West Midlands provided 52,537 three-day emergency food supplies to people in crisis compared to 49,365 in the same period last year. Of this number, 18,571 went to children.
Nationally, between April 1 and September 30, a total of 586,907 parcels were distributed, up from 519,342 during the same period last year.
Officials, say that the figure came before the roll-out of the full Universal Credit benefit shake-up was accelerated last month and the food bank network is already on course to distribute a new record number of food parcels in 2017/18.
Mark Ward, interim chief executive at The Trussell Trust, said: “We’re seeing soaring demand at foodbanks across the UK. Our network is working hard to stop people going hungry but the simple truth is that even with the enormous generosity of our donors and volunteers, we’re concerned food banks could struggle to meet demand this winter if critical changes to benefit delivery aren’t made now.
"People cannot be left for weeks without any income, and when that income does come, it must keep pace with living costs – food banks cannot be relied upon to pick up the pieces."