Hand­outs soar­ing

More than 3000 emer­gency packs handed out by food banks

Hamilton Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - Ste­fanie Mc­court

More than 3000 emer­gency food sup­ply packs have been is­sued in Hamil­ton in just six months.

Hamil­ton District Food­bank handed out 3177 three­day emer­gency sup­plies to des­per­ate lo­cals be­tween April 1 and Septem­ber 30 this year.

Alarm­ingly, 1038 of these went to chil­dren.

The fig­ures, re­leased this week, highlight a mas­sive 33 per cent in­crease on the same pe­riod last year, and food­bank vol­un­teers are brac­ing them­selves for an­other surge in de­mand as the win­ter weather draws in.

The food­bank is a mem­ber of The Trus­sell Trust’s net­work, which re­ported a Uk-wide in­crease in food­bank use.

The char­ity be­lieves the lo­cal in­crease is due to “peo­ple strug­gling with con­tin­ued is­sues with ben­e­fit pay­ments, is­sues with Uni­ver­sal Credit and inse­cure work”.

Iso­bel Gra­ham, man­ager of Hamil­ton District Food­bank, said: “It’s a real con­cern that in only six months we’ve pro­vided 3177 emer­gency sup­plies to lo­cal peo­ple.

“These fig­ures don’t even cover our busiest time of year – as the colder weather draws in, we of­ten find more peo­ple need­ing our help.

“It’s not right that any­one in Hamil­ton district is be­ing forced to turn to our food­bank. Our vol­un­teers of­fer vi­tal sup­port when it mat­ters most, but they should not need to.

“We want to see an end to lo­cal peo­ple need­ing emer­gency food – with a ben­e­fits sys­tem that catches peo­ple be­fore they fall into cri­sis, and se­cure work that pro­vides peo­ple with enough money to cover the cost of essen­tials, we could reach that fu­ture. We’re de­ter­mined to make sure that un­til that time comes, emer­gency help is here for peo­ple.

“But there needs to be some long-term change be­cause we don’t want to be here for­ever.”

The shock­ing new fig­ures were con­demned by Hamil­ton, Larkhall and Stone­house MSP, Christina Mck­elvie.

She said: “The crazed UK ben­e­fits sys­tem is in­creas­ing poverty through­out the con­stituency. The re­la­tion­ship be­tween that re­al­ity and the in­crease in de­mand upon Hamil­ton District Food­bank is di­rect and un­de­ni­able.

“Vol­un­teers at the food­bank are clearly see­ing the dam­age to peo­ple’s lives through the

failed Uni­ver­sal Credit sys­tem. On av­er­age, in the first few months fol­low­ing a roll­out, there is an in­crease of 13 per cent in food­bank use.

“After a year, that fig­ure has in­creased to 52 per cent.”

Ms Mck­elvie urged Hamil­ton res­i­dents to do­nate what they can to the food­bank.

She added: “I re­ally en­cour­age the peo­ple who can to help the ones that can’t af­ford to buy ad­e­quate food for Christ­mas.

“Poverty does not dis­crim­i­nate and no one chooses to be there.

“Let us all do what­ever we can to help and to do­nate to the Hamil­ton District Food­bank.”

Vol­un­teers Hetty Nel­son, Mandy Hunter, Maureen Miller, Mary Searle and He­len Troop (back) with Pat Whit­ley and Liz Vasey (front)

Sup­plies The need for peo­ple to use food banks has in­creased

Stock­iso­bel Gra­ham in the toi­letries sec­tion

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