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Woman in an apron and face mask distributing food parcels

Huge rise in Wandsworth Foodbank handouts in one of UK’s richest boroughs

Volunteers at a foodbank in one of the country’s richest areas say they’ve handed out more than 11,000 food parcels during the pandemic.

Wandsworth Foodbank has revealed a 70% increase in those needing help since April last year when the food bank pivoted to a delivery service within a week of the Prime Minister’s announcement to stay home and save lives. 

Sarah Chapman, policy and communications manager at Wandsworth Foodbank, said: “It’s a testament to our incredible volunteers and team who’ve stepped up to the increased need and have shown incredible generosity during a difficult time.” 

Since April 2020 the food bank provided 11,307 food parcels across the Wandsworth area.

The borough of Wandsworth has the third highest number of residents in the UK earning more than £150,000 a year, according to a study of HM Revenue and Customs data by personal finance website easyMoney. 

Despite this, during the last year a number of residents in Wandsworth have been pulled into severe hardship, with many being referred to the food bank by GPs, schools, and mental health services.

One of those volunteers is ex-investment banker and Wandsworth resident Jane Houzer, 63 (pictured below).

HERE TO HELP: Jane has been with the food bank since 2018 and says the need for emergency food aid is enormous

She said: “I’ve lived in England pretty much my entire life but I’ve always been aware of the whole food bank issue in Canada and how the food bank movement is run there. 

“It slowly became a parallel welfare state service so the movement began to question itself very deeply.

“The Canadian government kind of felt like they didn’t have to provide that basic service anymore.

“Because of that I’ve always been interested in learning about the inequalities that cause food poverty.”

In 2018 when Jane came across a call-out for food bank volunteers in her local newspaper paper she knew she had to sign up.

She said: “The food bank will never go away unless we start addressing the underlying inequalities that lie at the heart of food insecurity.

“I’ll be honest, it feels quite relentless at the moment. The need is enormous.” 

Another volunteer, Emily Baines, 27, (pictured below – right – with a foodbank administrator) is a dancer whose work virtually disappeared overnight at the start of the pandemic.

She said volunteering with Wandsworth Foodbank was a practical way of showing love.

SERVICE WITH A SMILE: Emily (right) and Pat (left) work hard to get the food parcels to those who need it most

Emily said: “The food bank has challenged my perceptions. It’s not about working hard because there are people working really hard and still needing to rely on goodwill.

“It only takes one or two things to go wrong for you to end up relying on a food bank.

“We’re here for as long as we’re needed, but we sincerely hope there won’t be a need for us soon.”

Wandsworth Borough Council has been approached for comment.

Feature Image Credit: Wandsworth Foodbank (Pictured: Volunteer Jan)

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