Shock rise in food bank use in Bulwell and Hucknall

Bulwell and Bestwood Foodbank at St Philip's Church, picture includes Jill, Peter, Sue, Adele and manager Nigel Webster
Bulwell and Bestwood Foodbank at St Philip's Church, picture includes Jill, Peter, Sue, Adele and manager Nigel Webster

Shock new figures have revealed a big increase in the use of food banks in Bulwell, driven by low incomes, homelessness and changes and delays to welfare payments.

Recent figures revealed that 3,251 three day emergency food supplies were given to local people in crisis by the Bestwood & Bulwell Food bank in 2016/17 compared to 2,805 the year before - an increase of 15 per cent.

And food supplies to children has increased by 20 per cent with over 1,466 food parcels given in the last 12 months.

Organiser Nigel Webster said: “We are seeing more and more pressure on working families. It is building up a bit of a tidal wave of pressure. For the first time this year the amount of food we give out has exceeded what we have coming in.

“Bulwell and Hucknall residents are still being as generous as ever, but the demand is outstripping even their generosity. The same communities that donate, are also the one that use it. We are using our stores, but we are starting to run out of items like rice pudding and tinned custard.

“Things are getting harder and harder for people in Bulwell and Hucknall. There is no particular sign of things getting better.”

He paid tribute to the local community groups, and schools, like Bulwell Academy, which have given “fantastic donations.”

He said children who donated food at their schools’ harvest festivals would be giving “unbeknownst” to their class mates.

On June 16 and 17 there will be a collection at Top Valley Tesco, with another planned at Bulwell’s Tesco, later in the year.

Nigel said: “We had one gentleman who was discovered eating cardboard by a support worker. Things are really tough for people out there. We have noticed that we are feeding more homeless families who are in temporary accomodation. We hear the most desperate peoples’ stories, struggling with debt and illness. It has a powerful effect on us as individuals. I didn’t expect to be hearing stories like that.”

Nottingham now has 13 food banks whereas in 2010 there were none, with Bulwell and Bestwood, the single biggest. Over 20,000 three-day food supplies given out by Trussell Trust foodbanks in Nottinghamshire this year. The top three reasons for food bank referral were: benefit delay 21 per cent; benefit change 21 per cent; low income 30 per cent.

Trust director Adrian Curtis said: “We need to ensure that people in Nottinghamshire on low incomes or in insecure work have enough to live on. We need to listen to the experiences of people facing hunger and poverty, and work to find solutions to this problem.

“This must not become the new normal.”

City council deputy leader, Graham Chapman said: “The Government says they are making savings but in reality, it’s a false economy. As people are driven into poverty the social costs elsewhere rise and it divides society. Making the poor pay for austerity is motivated by one thing alone and it is not economics, it is malice.”

Jack Tinley, Conservative parliamentary candidate for Nottingham North, said: “It’s a complex issue and I would be keen for further analysis into these findings. The current Government has done a lot of good work to help people on lower incomes like increasing the minimum wage and the level of income at which people start paying tax. It has also overseen a large fall in unemployment, helping millions of people into work.”