Foodbanks aren’t just for Christmas

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Victoria Pearson

If you’re a regular reader of Ungagged, you’ll remember that we asked you to  donate to your local foodbank during our Activist Advent campaign, and you didn’t let us down: the Trussell Trust received over 13 tonnes of food donations last December.

This week, however, Ungagged became aware of a desperate shortage of food at NW Glasgow foodbank.

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NW Glasgow foodbank shortage – the line represents two weeks supply of food parcels

The line in the picture above indicates two weeks worth of food to feed hungry families, including children. As you can see, NW Glasgow is falling far short, and struggling with the huge increase in demand.

Almost 26,000 three day emergency food supplies were provided to local people in crisis by Glasgow NW, Glasgow NE, Glasgow SE, Glasgow SW and Glasgow City Centre foodbanks during 2016-17, compared to 21,838 in 2015-16. Of this number, 10,325 went to children.

The foodbank is run by The Trussell Trust network.  They provide three days’ nutritionally balanced food, cleaning products and essential toiletries to those in need in the uk, as well as signposting people to other agencies and services able to help resolve the underlying cause of the crisis; most commonly benefit changes or sanctions.

Kyle McCormick, Project Manager of Glasgow NW Foodbank said:

“It is deeply concerning that we are still seeing an increase in the number of three day emergency food supplies provided to local people in crisis across Glasgow over the last year, at North West this has been an increase of 62% on the previous year.

One family came to us following their benefit being stopped, resulting in no income while their case was being reviewed. The foodbank provided the support for the family while their Member of Parliament and the Citizens Advice Bureau were involved to resolve the situation as soon as possible. The foodbank supported the family until the point when their crisis was resolved. We are extremely grateful for all the donations that we receive, largely by customers leaving donations at our supermarket collection points. Donations are particularly great at Christmas, when we saw 13 tonnes donated in December, from various workplaces, schools and churches organising collections. The reality of the Foodbank is that we are open 52 weeks of the year across the city, you can see the startling figures of those that we are all helping, we need continued support to always have food on our shelves. In the last quarter of 2016-2017 Glasgow NW foodbank spent over £2,000 to keep the shelves stocked, as donations drop almost instantly at the turn of the year.”

Many people in crisis who access the foodbank are struggling because of circumstances out of their control, and Trussell Trust can be a lifeline when they’ve nowhere else to turn.

  Audrey Flannagan, Foodbank Manager of Glasgow SE Foodbank said:

“I received a phone call from a gentleman asking if we could help. He had had a relationship breakdown but his daughter and grand-child were living with him. He was working, but on minimum wage, but still paying full rent etc as partner had been working before the split and they didn’t qualify for housing benefit. His daughter was waiting for her benefits to be sorted and was unable to contribute much to the house. I told him to come and see us. We were able to help with food and as he had a prepayment meter fuel as well. We were also able to signpost both of them to the local law centre for benefit checks etc. He said he did not know what he would have done if the foodbank hadn’t been there.”

With massive rising demand, and donations tailing off as soon as the Christmas period is over, foodbanks in Glasgow are struggling to assist everyone who needs it, so are pooling their scarce resources to try to help as many people as possible. It’s brilliant that the foodbanks are coming together in this way, but they urgently need our help. Foodbanks are expensive to run; as well as the costs of food, toiletries, cleaning products and sanitary protection, foodbanks must also find the money for warehouse space, to sort and stock donated food, a van to pick up donated food and deliver to distribution centres, and other overheads like utilities and insurances and salary for the part time managers (who, as Ungagged discovered when we delivered our donation, are so dedicated to their calling, they have even been working through unpaid holiday time to keep the foodbank operational).

How to Help

  • The foodbanks will continue working together in the coming months when they will be collecting money for foodbank funds at Glasgow Central Station on the last Friday of the month from April to November excluding September.
  • The Foodbanks welcome any new offers of help with funding – local businesses, organisations and individuals interested in supporting the foodbank’s work can find out more at the individual foodbank’s website.
  • You can donate food at various collection points. Donations the foodbanks need in general are:

TINNED: fish, meat, vegetables, fruit, tomatoes,

JARS: pasta sauce, jam,

DRINKS: UHT Milk, diluting juice,

toiletries,

cleaning products

Food banks generally have enough soup, beans and pasta.

At time of writing, no political figure had responded to the desperate shortage of food in Glasgow’s foodbanks. We find that appalling. Lip service is not enough, people are going hungry. The time for action is now.

It is election time, so is the ideal time to let our representatives know we won’t tolerate people going hungry because our MPs refuse to address the causes of poverty, and refuse to fund foodbanks.

We are the fifth largest economy in the world. We shouldn’t have to rely on charity to feed our vulnerable people. But right now, you are all these people have. We know our audience are kind, generous, good hearted people and we know you’ll dig deep.

Foodbanks are for life, not just for Christmas.

 

If you’d like to donate through Ungagged, please leave your donation here, write “Foodbank” in the “add a note” section, and we’ll be sure to pass it on with donations we have collected from our contributers, just as we did earlier in the week.

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Our co-producer, Neil Scott, meeting with Kyle McCormick of NW Glasgow foodbank, to give in our team’s donations.

 

Twenty Four

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Wow! What an advent it has been. If you’ve been following along with Ungagged’s Activist Advent, you’ve done some amazing things, raised awareness and even saved lives.

It may not feel like individually you have made a massive difference but collectively we can apply pressure, raise each others voices and force change.

Today’s task is equally important. This month you’ve run around shopping, wrapping gifts, preparing food, put other people first and you’ve found time to follow along with this, doing what you can to make the world a better place. You are an absolute super hero! You must be exhausted. So today’s task is to have a self care day.

Take some time to chill, in whatever way leaves you most relaxed, even if only for half an hour. If you frazzle yourself out, you can’t help other people.

Be as kind to yourself as you are to other people. You deserve it.

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Merry Christmas from the whole Ungagged Team

If we’ve inspired you to keep it going, we’d love to hear all about your acts of kindness and activism. Whether you have found an amazing local charity, activist group or cause, are performing small acts of kindness to improve your community, or are writing to your MP on a regular basis about issues that matter to you, we want to hear about it. Tell us what you are up to, tag us in pictures videos and statuses on our Facebook or twitter and we will share the best ones.

 

Image by Debra Torrance

Written by Victoria Pearson 

Twenty Three

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The Trussell Trust reports food bank use is at an all time high, with over a million 3 day emergency food parcels given out to families in the UK over the last year.

Thirteen million people live below the poverty line in the UK, with individuals going hungry every day for a range of reasons, from benefit delays to receiving an unexpected bill on a low income. Stopping hunger is about more than food though, which is why the trust work with foodbanks to provide a range of new services like money advice and Fuel Banks, helping people to break the cycle of poverty.

It is shocking that we even need foodbanks in the UK at all, and their use is exploding. It has been reported that the DWP is leaving new claimants weeks in between being considered eligible for benefits and receiving their first payments and, instead of offering social care grants or bridging loans to make up the shortfall,  they are referring people to foodbanks. In the Tories austerity Britain,  hunger is rife. Several vulnerable people have been reported as starving to death this year, and record numbers of children are suffering the effects of malnutrition.

Foodbanks partner with a wide range of care professionals such as doctors, health visitors, social workers and police to identify people in crisis and issue them with a foodbank voucher. Foodbank clients then bring their voucher to a foodbank centre where it can be redeemed for three days’ emergency food. Volunteers meet clients over a warm drink or free hot meal and are able to signpost people to agencies able to solve the longer-term problem.

Foodbanks wouldn’t be able to function without schools, churches, businesses and individuals who donate non-perishable, in-date food to foodbanks,  and the 40,000+ strong army of volunteers who sort through it all and pack it into boxes ready for people in need.

There are lots of ways you can help support Trussell Trust- from shopping at or donating to their charity shops, donating to their Christmas appeal, donating food at your local collection point, or donating money to Trussell Trust.

You can volunteer to help pack, deliver  and distribute food, or even set up your own foodbank.

As ever, we encourage you to write to your MP and tell them that over a million people relying on foodbanks is not acceptable in the UK,  in 2016.

 

Image by Debra Torrance 

Written by Victoria Pearson 

Twenty Two

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Today we are asking you to spare a thought for those who know that this will be their final Christmas, and the nurses, doctors, carers, cleaners and caterers who give up Christmas with their families to make sure that people recieve the care they deserve at the end of their lives.

There are so very many outstanding organisations and charities we could highlight that work tirelessly to give people dignity in death, and we encourage you to find out about any that are local to you and the different ways to support them. We have chosen three to highlight here.

St Margaret of Scotland Hospice is the oldest and the largest hospice in Scotland. They not only  support patients with advanced life-limiting illness and older people with complex medical and nursing needs in their Clydebank hospice, they also offer Out Patient Facilities, Community Specialist Palliative Care and Counselling Services.

One of our contributors has experience of the care and compassion shown at St Margaret of Scotland Hospice, and how the staff there helped a dearly loved relative end their days with dignity and without pain.

You can support St Margaret of Scotland Hospice by getting involved with their events, visiting their shops, or donating to their shops. If you’re inspired to do even more, you could volunteer.

49,000 children and young people are living in the UK with health conditions that are life-shortening or life-threatening—and the number is rising. That’s one in every 270 children—the equivalent of one in every school. Together for Short Lives are the leading UK charity that speaks out for all children and young people who are expected to have short lives. Together with everyone who provides care and support to these children and families,they are here to help them have as fulfilling lives as possible and the very best care at the end of life.

They also support all the professionals, children’s palliative care services and children’s hospices that deliver lifeline care to children and families across the UK.

You can help by donating to their Christmas Appeal 2016 , taking part in one of their fundraising events or by volunteering.

Rennie Grove Hospice Care is a charity providing care and support for patients in Herts and Bucks diagnosed with life-limiting illness, who wish to die at home, and is another charity close to one of our contributors hearts.

Through their 24/7 responsive hospice at home service and day services they make it possible for people to choose how and where they want to be cared for towards the end of life. The support they provide for families both during the illness and after bereavement is very valuable to the families they support.

Our contributor said;

The Iain Rennie nurses helped keep my grandfather comfortable through emphysema and the final stages of cancer, but their care went beyond that. They were on-call at all times and were an unobtrusive but calming presence through the very private moment of what, thanks to them, was a comfortable, dignified death. They weren’t just a support to him, but to the whole family. The care, compassion and support they gave my grandmother was invaluable both while she was caring for my grandfather and through her bereavement. We could never thank them enough.

You can find out about the many ways to donate to Rennie Grove Hospice Care here.

Image by Debra Torrance

Written by Victoria Pearson