‘Becoming an accepted part of life’: Visits to Croydon food bank up by 65%

More than 1,200 visits were made to Croydon Food Bank in the last six months – a 65% increase on the same period last year.

The Trussell Trust’s mid-year statistics show that across London its network of food banks provided three-day emergency food supplies 49,969 times between April and September 2016 – compared to 49,558 during the same period in 2015.

Issues with benefits, including delays and sanctions, were the biggest cause of food bank use – accounting for 43% of referrals.

Followed by low income, insecure work and rising costs.

Pastor Ofori Kingsley, who runs the Trussell Trust’s Croydon Food Bank, believes visits to the food bank are becoming a normal part of community life.

He said: “Before, it tended to be a family crisis – perhaps domestic violence.

“Now [the families we see] talk more about the fact that they do not have the funds to meet their basic needs.

“Before, there was a bit of a shame. But now, people are coming to the food bank with their families.

“The food bank is becoming accepted as a part of local life.”

Food bank use also increased significantly in the boroughs of Richmond, Kensington and Chelsea and Hammersmith and Fulham – all of which are among the UK’s wealthiest postcodes – by 39%, 35% and 22% respectively.

The true number of Londoners in food poverty is likely to be even higher because referral vouchers – which can only be given by professional agencies like Citizens Advice – are frequently not used when families cannot afford the transport costs to collect their food.

“People often tell us they are using the second or third voucher they have been issued because they did not have the money to come and use it,” Pastor Kingsley added.

The Trussell Trust plans to open a second branch in Croydon at Thornton Heath Pond before the end of November in order to meet extra demand ahead of the Christmas period.

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