Report by Stephen Cox
North Enfield Foodbank is preparing for Christmas having helped nearly seven thousand people over the lastyear – a 9.2% increase in demand.
Set up in 2012 by national charity the Trussell Trust, North Enfield Foodbank in Lumina Way is giving out more food parcels than ever before, with 6,868 people receiving aid in the year up to October 2018.
Speaking to the Dispatch, foodbank manager Kerry Coe said: “We provide emergency foodsupplies for those in crisis. Each person can get three days food, upto six times a year.
“They can be referred by three hundred local partners – schools, children’s centres, housing associations, GPs and voluntary bodies.”
Nationwide, the Trussell Trust says use of its foodbanks is up 13% and attributes much of this to benefit changes. It claims foodbank use rises faster in places where Universal Credit has been fully rolled out.
But Kerry is cautious about the figures. She said: “We don’t know whether we are growing because more people need us, or because more people have heard of us. It is probably both.”
North Enfield Foodbank actually offers a much wider range of services than it does food. Enfield Community Money Advice and Enfield Citizens Advice Bureau both hold regular sessions, there is a free language school, and cooking lessons are provided.
Kerry said: “We offer baby food, babymilk, nappies, toiletries and sanitary protection. We can buy families school uniforms. We try to signpost people to other places they can get help.
“We see huge generosity, we’re very blessed by support from the community.”
The foodbank always accepts donations of non-perishable foods, with information on its website as to what is particularly needed. Christmas often leads to a surge in donations. Fresh fruit and vegetables are welcome, but the foodbank cannot take more than it expects to distribute.
About one-tenth of clients are referred to Enfield North Foodbank because of benefit delays. Nationally, the Trussell Trust agrees that foodbanks are not a permanent solution, and has launched a three year research programme. Emma Revie, the charity’s chief executive, said: “Foodbanks are providing absolutely vital, compassionate support, in communities across our country, but no charity can replace the dignity of having long-term financial security.
“We need to end poverty – we need to ensure that everyone has enough money coming in to cover the cost of the essentials. Poverty is about big structural issues that we need to work together as a nation to tackle.”
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: “The reasons why people use foodbanks are complex. We continue to spend around £90billion a year supporting people who need it, including those who are out of work or on a low income.”
For more information about North Enfield Foodbank: Visit northenfield.foodbank.org.uk