More emergency parcels have been given out in the past year than ever before in the South West by a charity food bank.
New figures by the Trussell Trust reveal that around 250,000 parcels were provided to people facing hardship in the South West between April 2022 and March 2023, with nearly 95,000 of these parcels provided for children.
This is a 42% increase compared to last year.
The charity's annual statistics also show that an increasing number of people struggle to afford the essentials. Across the UK more than 760,000 people accessed a food bank in the Trussell Trust network for the first time.
The levels of need were particularly high in winter and December 2022 was the busiest month on record for the UK-wide network, with a parcel being distributed by staff and volunteers across the country every eight seconds.
Speaking about the rising need for emergency food, Emma Revie, Chief Executive at the Trussell Trust, said:
“These new statistics are extremely concerning and show that an increasing number of people in the South West are being left with no option but to turn to charitable, volunteer-run organisations to get by and this is not right.
"The continued increase in parcel numbers over the last five years indicates that it is ongoing low levels of income and a social security system that isn’t fit for purpose that are forcing more people to access food banks, rather than just the recent cost of living crisis or the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Food banks were set up to provide short-term support to people in an emergency, they are not a lasting solution to hunger and poverty, and more than three-quarters of the UK population agree with us that they should not need to exist."
The Trussell Trust is calling for the UK government to strengthen the social security system.
The charity has joined with Joseph Rowntree Foundation in urging the UK government to embed in law an ‘Essentials Guarantee’ that would make sure Universal Credit payments always provide enough to the cover cost of essentials such as food, utilities and vital household goods.