New report reveals steep rise in food bank usage by children

Food banks in Wandsworth fed 1,000 children last year, a new report from Wandsworth Food Bank shows.

The annual report reveals a 25% rise, while Hammersmith and Fulham saw a 90% increase at the same time as the roll-out of universal credit full service, which brings disabled people and families with children into the system.

A  Child Poverty Action Group report in 2017 predicted families would be up to £1,200 a year worse off under universal credit, with welfare cuts forcing one million children into poverty.

Figures from Shelter show the number of homeless families in Wandsworth has trebled in the last eight years.

Wandsworth food bank founder and trustee Sarah Chapman said: “Even one child in that situation, in the sixth richest nation and in a predominantly wealthy borough is just appalling and unnecessary.

“You see welfare reforms that mean people have less money in their pocket, you see the rise of low-paid, zero-hours contracts which might mean that people have eight hours of work one week and 30 the next.

“We used to be a society based on justice and compassion where the safety net was a brilliant thing to help us and it feels like it’s become demonised.”

She also pointed to the hardship caused to homeless families housed outside the borough who have to spend their food budget on getting their children to school and attending vital appointments.

She said: “We helped a mum who had been housed over in east London with her young daughter and bringing her back to Battersea every day for school. It involved a lot of stress but also obviously, money.

“We talk to people people who can’t afford to go home after dropping the kids off at school. That has such a toll on people in terms of stress and depression.”

“At the moment the council doesn’t cover those extra costs. We’re just saying please cover those costs.”

Mrs Chapman raised the issue with the Conservative leader of Wandsworth council, councillor Ravi Govindia, at a meeting in April.

“He said he’s asked someone to look at it. We don’t know any more than that.

“We know that councillors of any persuasion want the best for their residents so we’re really hopeful that councillors can come together on this issue,” she said.

However, she also revealed that no Conservative councillors attended the food bank’s report launch on May 25. The contents of the report will be discussed at a second event at St Mark’s Church in Clapham tonight.

Mrs Chapman said: “It would be brilliant for as many councillors as possible to engage with an issue that affects families from across Wandsworth.

“It’s a moral issue that there are families trapped in a daily struggle to put food on the table. I think all councillors would care about that.”

Related Articles