The Trussell Trust - working to stop UK hunger
I firmly believe with every fibre of my being that no one should go hungry - no one. Whatever their circumstance.
Can you imagine having to choose between putting the heating on in winter or buying food? Can you imagine sending your children to school without any breakfast or sending them to bed hungry? Can you imagine dreading the school holidays because you can’t afford to feed your children when they’re at home (for some children, the free school meal they receive is the only proper meal they’ll get that day) or skipping meals so you can at least give them something to eat? Can you imagine not eating for a week, because you’re too afraid or embarrassed to ask for help?
As well as food, people are going without the basic supplies that are so often taken for granted - washing powder, cleaning products, toiletries, sanitary products. You just can’t imagine it, but it’s happening - to real people, in our towns and cities, right now.
What is The Trussell Trust?
The Trussell Trust was founded in 1997 by Carol and Paddy Henderson (prior to this they were working as part of a UN feeding programme) and was initially focused on improving conditions for adults and children sleeping at Central Railway Station in Bulgaria. Work soon began back in the UK, when Paddy started Salisbury Foodbank from his garden shed, where he provided three days worth of emergency food to local people in crisis. And they didn’t stop there.
The Trussell Trust now has a network of over 420 Food Banks that operate in locations across the UK. They provide a minimum of 3 days worth of emergency food for people in crisis, and in 2017/18 they gave out over 1,332,952 of these food parcels to people in desperate need. As well as providing emergency food, they partner with local authorities and charities who can provide other services or offer advice in order to help break the cycle of poverty.
How do the Food Banks work?
The Food Banks rely heavily on the public and individuals for donations of in-date, non-perishable food. Schools, churches, businesses and supermarkets also donate (particularly around Harvest Festival time). Volunteers sort and pack the food items into boxes, ready to hand out to people in need. Food Banks partner with healthcare professionals (police, health visitors, doctors, social workers) to identify people in need, who are then given a voucher to exchange for 3 days worth of emergency food. People who visit the Food Banks are met with a smile or a hug, a warm drink or meal, company and compassion, and above all - empathy and understanding. As well as food, people can receive advice, or are at least pointed in the direction of where they can get further help, to solve any ongoing problems.
Who do they help?
In the UK, there are over 13 million people living below the poverty line, for a number of reasons. Primary causes include families struggling on one income or a low income, a delay or change in benefits, an unexpected bill, debt, short term sickness, long term illness, redundancy, a delay in wages, homelessness, domestic abuse, loss of a partner, mental health problems resulting in an inability to work or hold down a job… people from all walks of life.
Disaster strikes, the unexpected happens, and it can happen to anyone - ex army nurses and police officers, full time mothers, students, people that have worked all their lives and never claimed benefits, youngsters who have left the care system and are now struggling to make it by themselves in the big wide world… Contrary to popular belief, it’s not people who choose to buy cigarettes and alcohol over food, or people who gamble their benefits away, knowing they can then go and get free food. As one individual who has previously received help from a Food Bank stated:
“We need to stop judging people and listen to every individual to understand how they got into the situation.”
You can read some real stories on the website, and as the case studies show, crisis can happen to anyone, at any time:
More than Food
The Trussell Trust and associated Food Banks provide more than just cans of beans and pasta. They partner with Money Management charities who can help people with debt management and financial difficulties, and they offer courses to educate people how to cook well on a budget (Eat Well Spend Less). You can read about the cooking courses here:
The Trust also provides respite for families in the form of Holiday Clubs, to address hunger and isolation in the school holidays. The Holiday Clubs provide a range of fun activities for children who may otherwise face a long and lonely holiday time (it’s a great way for parents to socialise too, so they don’t feel so alone). Breakfast and lunch is provided, which can be a lifesaver for some families. You can read more about the Holiday Clubs here:
In addition to food, Food Banks can also provide non-food items for adults and children - the items that we take for granted. Items that can help people regain their dignity and feel human again. Items can include toiletries (for example shampoo, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shaving gel, toilet paper, body cream, deodorant); household items (washing powder, washing up liquid, cleaning products); feminine products (sanitary towels, tampons); and baby products (nappies, baby wipes, baby food, baby shampoo, baby bath).
How can we help now?
Over 90% of the food distributed by The Trussell Trust Food Banks is donated by the public. Food donations from individuals are vital, so they can continue to provide emergency food to people at crisis point.
How to donate:
You can drop food at collection points in supermarkets across the country or you can give directly to your local Food Bank - find one here:
It’s a good idea to check the website of your local Food Bank to see what’s urgently needed at that time - they usually display a ‘shopping list’ of items they urgently need, and sometimes state what they already have plenty of (for example beans or pasta).
I’m collecting now!
I’m collecting for Leeds North & West food bank. If you would like to help me with my collection and donate any food or non-food items please email me firstname.lastname@example.org or drop me a message on Facebook or Instagram @bossingitblog. I will happily collect items from you and transport them to the Food Bank. Thank you.
I’m currently looking for donations of:
***THEY ARE IN URGENT NEED OF TINNED MEAT AND TINNED FISH ***
At present they have plenty of beans, soup and pasta.
You can read more about Leeds North and West Food Bank here:
To find out more about The Trussell Trust and to find a food bank near you visit https://www.trusselltrust.org/
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