Food bank use surges during pandemic with families hardest-hit

The amount of people using food banks for the first time has increased because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Trussell Trust reported that families with children are being hit the hardest during the pandemic.

Analysis carried out by Heriot-Watt University with support from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, estimated there is likely to be a 61 per cent rise in need at the Trust’s network of more than 1,000 food banks this winter.

The charity warned that with mass unemployment forecast there will be 670,000 additional people classed as destitute by the end of 2020, meaning they cannot afford essentials like housing, energy and food.

This is on top of year-on-year rises in the number of people unable to afford food and forced into using food banks across the UK, said the Trust.

The Trussell Trust network had experienced a year-on-year hike in levels of need, with 1.9 million emergency food parcels given out in 2019/20.

As the pandemic struck in April, the Trust said it saw an immediate and sustained surge in need across its food banks with an 89 per cent increase in the number of emergency food parcels given out compared with the same month in 2019.



The latest data shows that almost 100,000 households received support from a food bank in the Trussell Trust network for the very first time between April and June.

Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, said: “Communities throughout the country have shown enormous resilience in helping more people than ever before, but food banks and other community charities cannot continue to pick up the pieces.

You don’t have to suffer in silence if you’re struggling with your mental health. Here are some groups you can contact when you need help:

Samaritans: Phone 116 123, 24 hours a day, or email jo@samaritans.org, in confidence

Childline: Phone 0800 1111. Calls are free and won’t show up on your bill

PAPYRUS: A voluntary organisation supporting suicidal teens and young adults. Phone 0800 068 4141

Depression Alliance: A charity for people with depression. No helpline but offers useful resources and links to other information on its website

Students Against Depression: A website for students who are depressed, have low mood, or are suicidal. Click here to visit

Bullying UK: A website for both children and adults affected by bullying. Click here

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM): For young men who are feeling unhappy. Has a website here and a helpline: 0800 58 58 58

“If we don’t take action now, there will be further catastrophic rises in poverty in the future. We must take it to help us weather the storm left in the wake of Covid-19.”

Charity Action for Children is warning of similar issues, with fears that thousands of families are set to plunge into financial crisis this winter.

According to a report released on Monday, two thirds of the charity’s on-the-ground workers, who have supported people through the pandemic, fear families will become worse off over the next six months.

Since lockdown began, Action for Children has run an emergency appeal which has helped 10,000 children across the country. However, 71 per cent of families who accessed the funds did not have financial issues before the pandemic.

A Government spokesman said: “We have provided £9.3 billion extra welfare support to help those most in need, including increasing Universal Credit by up to £20 a week, as well as introducing income protection schemes, mortgage holidays and additional support for renters.

“Meanwhile, since mid-March we’ve supported 3.9 million claims to Universal Credit and made 1.3 million advance payments to people who could not wait.

“We have already taken steps to help ease the burden of Universal Credit debt repayments including reducing the maximum deduction from 40 per cent to 30 per cent off a claimant’s standard allowance. From October 2021 we will reduce this further to 25 per cent, and we will double the time available to repay an advance to 24 months.”

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