Black Country food banks experiencing significant rise in use amid cost of living crisis

Food banks across the Black Country have reported a significant rise in use – but a dearth in donations amid the cost of living crisis.

New Life Worldwide Apostolic Church, Wednesbury, Church Minister David Abraham, with volunteers (left) Asa Abraham, and (right) Jermaine Gooden
New Life Worldwide Apostolic Church, Wednesbury, Church Minister David Abraham, with volunteers (left) Asa Abraham, and (right) Jermaine Gooden

A notable increase in the amount of families coming forward has been experienced, with many parents going without to ensure their children have enough to eat.

It comes after inflation hit a 40-year high in April, prompting the Prime Minister to promise to "look at all the measures that we need to take to get people through to the other side."

New Life Worldwide Apostolic Church's food bank in Wednesbury has seen its weekly numbers double since the turn of the year.

Church minister David Abraham, who helps with logistics and collections, said: "Since the turn of the year our footfall has increased from about 13 to 31 now.

"In the last couple of months, we have depleted our supplies and haven't been able to obtain stock.

"Today we put a message on our church channel that if anybody has spare non-perishables to bring them along as we are struggling.

"The food supply has drastically decreased, with inflation, fuel costs, all playing a part.

"Generally food is the biggest issue at the moment. We have seen an increase in families coming forward."

Food Bank distribution point launched by Secret Angels at the Park Village education centre

Secret Angels, a charity working to tackle poverty and social exclusion, launched a weekly food bank in April.

Alvina Ali, founder of Secret Angels, said: "We are getting six to seven families come in every week because they can't cope with their costs.

"They have rent arrears and unexpected bills, things like that.

"Where the parents are concerned, they are focussing on feeding the children and going without themselves.

"With regard to people going hungry, there's also issues with benefits and universal credit.

"There is a delay which is causing more people to rely on the food bank"

Secret Angels' food bank also offers help in addition to providing food.

Alvina added: "Another part is we ask people who come if there is any help other than food they need.

"What we are doing is seeing if we can make referral to their energy supplier or the citizens advice bureau to see if there is any relief they can get.

"Even simple things like budgeting skills, the warm home discount, can really help."

Meanwhile, there has been a call for a nationwide insulation programme to help bring down soaring energy bills and help tackle the cost of living crisis.

Chris Crean from West Midlands Friends of the Earth, said: "Today’s cost-of-living crisis means people are choosing between keeping the lights on and putting food on the table.

"We're paying more and more for daily essentials such as energy, food and travel, while oil and gas companies are cashing in on record profits.

"The fastest, most efficient way to bring down energy bills is to impose a windfall tax on these excess profits and use it to fund a free street-by-street insulation programme – focussing on the most vulnerable households first.

"Insulating homes, phasing out fossil fuels and investing in safe, reliable and renewable energy will keep energy bills down and help curb climate breakdown. The Government must act now."

For help locally, New Life Worldwide Apostolic Church in Wednesbury opens its food bank every Sunday.

Secret Angels food bank runs at the Park Village Education Centre in Low Hill, Wolverhampton, every Tuesday from 10.30am to 12.30pm.

A full list of food banks across the West Midlands can be found here.

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