Article from Huddersfield Examiner 5th May 2018
Referrals to a Huddersfield town centre foodbank have rocketed in the last 12 months as the controversial new Universal Credit plunges more Huddersfield people into debt.
In the first four months of 2018 the centre received 469 referrals from clients on Universal Credit – up from 138 in the same period last year – and it is leaving fundraisers and 100 volunteers struggling to keep up with demand.
Staff at the Welcome Centre on Lord Street say they gave out more than 9,000 food packs last year – the equivalent of 150,000 meals.
Fundraiser Emma Greenough called it “a staggering increase of 340%” that puts a huge strain on the foodbank’s resources.
And if they make an error in their online application the claim can be closed down, putting them back to square one and, crucially, with no money.
Emma said: “There is a massive change in budgeting for people that may not have had to do that before.
“In the past we have never had any form of repeat food parcel, but we have recurring parcels now. The people that come to us are offered a minimum of five food parcels each. We are having to make changes.”
When the Welcome Centre opened in 1992 it distributed 250 parcels in a year.
Now we can do that amount in a week,” says Emma. “It can even be more.”
She says demand for food parcels shot up following the economic downturn in 2010, reaching 8,000 in a year.
But, she adds, it was impossible to determine whether the packs were being used by a single person or a family of 12.
And with new figures showing that 40% of children in the UK live below the poverty line, with one in seven going to school without eating breakfast, it’s a grim scenario.