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UK News

'There's an economic tidal wave coming against us and not everybody has a lifeboat': Calls for government help as foodbank use soars 81percent

by Tola Mbakwe

The Trussell Trust has called on the UK government to up its efforts in helping people struggling financially during the coronavirus pandemic as new statistics reveal a big strain on foodbanks. 

The Christian charity said its network of foodbanks have had their busiest ever period, with 81 per cent more emergency food parcels being given out across the UK, including 122 per cent more parcels going to children, compared to the same period in 2019.

The data also shows people struggling with the amount of income they were receiving from working or benefits as the main reason for the increase in need.

Chief executive of the Trussell Trust Emma Revie told Premier the figures are concerning and show the consequences of job losses during UK lockdown. 

"Often people hear about increases in food bank demand, and they think the solution is food. We're really clear that if somebody is in a position where they can't afford food, they're also in their homes making really difficult decisions about whether they choose between food or heating and other essentials."

A coalition of charities, including the Trussell Trust, Independent Food Aid Network, Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), Children's Society, Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), StepChange and Turn2us is now urging the government to do more to help protect many people from being swept into poverty  as more than 1.8 million people appled for Universal Credit in recent weeks. 

The group has commended the government for its Coronavirus Jobs Retention scheme, additional investment in Universal Credit and the Local Housing Allowance. 

But they have called for the implementation of a Coronavirus Emergency Income Support Scheme. In it, the government would increase benefits that go to families to help with the costs of raising children, extend the suspension of benefit deductions to cover advance payments and lift the benefit cap. 

Revie said it would also be helpful for the government to ensure local authorities in England can financially provide effective crisis support to individuals and families.

"I think we're really clear there is an economic tidal wave coming at us. And not everyone has a lifeboat. And we're asking the government to work with us to ensure that every single person can keep their head above water," she said. 

Revie added it's a "miracle from God" that foodbanks have been able to keep up with demand for food but the increase in need is takin a toll on workers. 

"I think we've seen incredible support from across our churches. And we know that people have been praying and that extraordinary things have happened.

"Continue to pray for the volunteers and staff. They are tired and have been working so hard. Praying for their wellbeing is really important."

Listen to the full interview with Emma Revie here:

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