Demand increases for food banks in Northumberland, including Berwick

Demand at Berwick Food Bank is even higher than a year ago and its operations director has warned things “will only get worse”.

By Andrew Coulson
Thursday, 5th May 2022, 3:02 pm

The Trussell Trust has also announced that food bank use had accelerated in the past six months, as the rising cost of living hits people’s pockets.

At Berwick, the team has found that there has been an increase in the number of people asking for help who are in work, but their wage is not covering all the key costs – including food, heating and electricity, petrol or diesel fuel and clothes.

Becci Murray, operations director at the food bank, said: “The demand has gradually risen over recent months and unfortunately, I think it will only get worse as the energy price rises that came in recently have an even bigger impact.

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The Trussell Trust has also reported an increase in demand in Northumberland. Picture by Peter Summers/Getty Images.

“Those who admit they didn’t see themselves as needing to use a food bank just a couple of years ago have said they hung off until they had nothing left.

“We’ve referred some rural residents who use oil or solid fuel to the Log Bank in Wooler and the worry here is that oil prices are not capped.

“We’ve heard of people looking for logs and branches from trees that fell during Storm Arwen to use for fuel.

“People continue to donate generously and thankfully at the moment, we are still able to meet demand.”

She added: “This service is for everybody. There is a misconception that you have to be on benefits to access the food bank, but that isn’t the case. People can also self-refer themselves.”

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Figures from The Trussell Trust, a charity tackling poverty in the UK, show that 1,921 emergency food parcels were handed out to people in Northumberland in the year to March. This was an increase from 1,413 emergency food parcels distributed in the year to March 2021.

Emma Revie, chief executive of the charity, said: “People are telling us they’re skipping meals so they can feed their children.”

The Department for Work and Pensions said that it recognised the pressures on the cost of living and was “doing what it can” to help, such as spending £22billion across the next financial year to support people with energy bills and fuel duty.