18th October 2022

On Tuesday, 17 October, our Project Coordinator, Stephanie Maxwell, joined representatives from the Independent Food Aid Network, Feeding Britain, and the Trussell Trust to hand in a joint letter at 10 Downing Street.

This letter, calling for the Prime Minister to take urgent action to end the need for emergency food, was signed by more than 3,000 foodbank staff and volunteers.

The letter lays out how foodbanks are already “struggling to cope” as demand outstrips donations. “We are overstretched and exhausted. Many of our organisations are at breaking point,” it reads.  The letter calls for the government to take action to “ensure everyone has enough income, from work and social security, to buy the essentials”.

After handing over the letter, the group also met with the All Party Parliamentary Group on Ending The Need For Foodbanks

Steph Maxwell, Coordinator for Uttlesford Foodbank, says:

“The impact of the cost of living crisis is being most keenly felt by people on the lowest incomes, forced to live from day to day, never having sufficient funds to bulk buy or take advantage of discounts. It costs more to be poor. As well as skipping meals, not switching the heating on, not buying school uniforms to replace outgrown ones, many families have no option but to turn to a charity to make ends meet.

It cannot be right that the poorest people in our society are being pushed deeper into poverty because of an inadequate social security system that does not reflect the true cost of living.

Our food bank continues to be busier year on year, and unless benefits are kept in line with the true cost of living, we anticipate a sharp increase over the coming months. I hope the Prime Minister will show compassion and ensure that the benefits system is sufficient for people to buy their essentials and to live with dignity.”

Uttlesford Foodbank is by no means alone.  Current research from the Trussell Trust has found that millions of people in receipt of Universal Credit experienced severe financial hardship during the summer of 2022 due to the rising cost of living. Two in five people (40%) skipped meals to keep up with other essential living costs. Twenty-one percent have been unable to cook hot food because they couldn’t afford to use the oven or other utilities.

The team at Uttlesford Foodbank will be working hard this winter to meet rising demand across the district.

At the same time, we will continue to push for change both locally and nationally, to ensure our community is supported.


Full text of the letter:

“Dear Prime Minister,

We work and volunteer in many of the thousands of food banks, food pantries, food clubs, social supermarkets, soup kitchens and community kitchens in communities across the UK.

Over the last decade, increasing numbers of people have been pushed to the doors of food banks and other charitable food aid providers because they haven’t got enough money to buy food and other essentials. Since the cut to Universal Credit in October 2021 and the deepening cost of living crisis, the need for charitable food aid has steadily increased, reaching unprecedented levels.

People who were already unable to afford food are being hit the hardest by relentless rises in energy, food, and travel costs. Every day we meet people who are skipping meals so they can feed their children and turning off their cooker or fridge so they can cover other essential costs. People who used to donate to food banks are now needing to seek our support. And the next 12 months look bleaker still.

Many of our teams are struggling to cope as demand for our support outstrips our food and financial donations and we are forced to make difficult decisions about how we operate. We are overstretched and exhausted. Many of our organisations are at breaking point.

No-one should have to turn to charity to feed themselves and their families.

You have the power to reduce the need for our services.

As our new Prime Minister, we call on you to take urgent action to end the need for charitable food aid by ensuring everyone has enough income, from work and social security, to buy the essentials.

Yours sincerely”

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