Church Action on Poverty Media Manager, Gavin Aitchison, tells us how one crafty community in Devon raised awareness of food poverty by rather unusual methods!
Campaigners do all manner of things to spread the End Hunger UK message. Flyers, petitions, meetings and letters – they all help and we love to hear what you’ve been up to.
But one group of supporters in Devon have shared the message in a whole new and spectacular way – by decorating their town with amazing displays of crocheted crops and knitted nibbles.
The supporters in Crediton ‘yarn bombed’ their town square, decorating it with knitted items such as bunting, cakes, fried eggs and vegetables, and attached facts and messages about food poverty and how to solve it.
The idea came from Lauren Stacey, a local church youth worker, and was organised by Christians Together in Crediton, to help raise awareness of local and national food poverty. They were stirred to act after hearing how busy Crediton Foodbank had been last summer, when many families were swept into deeper difficulties, and shelves ran empty.
We asked Chris Parsons, the Crediton foodbank coordinator, to take up the story and here’s what she said: “Local knitting groups, guide groups and individuals have been secretly knitting and sewing and we hope the display will have a positive impact. Local children have made labels to hang around the display with various facts and figures on about food poverty.
“An unexpected outcome (for me anyway) was the excitement and enthusiasm the yarn bombing generated in the knitters and crafters; people of all ages, from all walks of life, individuals who are very isolated, knitting groups etc – they were all able to feel part of something a lot bigger and play a part in standing up against injustice that they might never have thought they could do.”
In particular, the group highlighted the need to reduce the wait for first Universal Credit payments, supporting the Trussell Trust’s #5weekstoolong campaign. This is a vital campaign, showing why the waiting period for initial payments must be reduced. People moving on to Universal Credit need to be supported, not swept into debt and poverty from day one.
So from all of us at End Hunger UK: thank you and bravo to the Crediton team. This is definitely one of the most creative and impressive projects we’ve seen.
We love hearing how supporters and campaigners around the country are helping to improve public understanding of food poverty, and helping to show how we can help to create a more just, compassionate society in which everyone has access to good food.
Have you been involved in a project in your community, to help challenge food poverty? If you’d like to share it with End Hunger UK supporters, please get in touch.
Sabine Goodwin of End Hunger UK partner Independent Food Aid Network tells us more about her research with independent food banks in Scotland alongside A Menu for Change…
We’ve known that emergency food parcel distribution has been growing year on year in Scotland because of the invaluable research of our EHUK colleagues the Trussell Trust. But there’s been a large missing piece to the jigsaw – how much support has been given out to adults and children by independent food banks? Thanks to our partnership with A Menu for Change, I’ve been able to find out more.
I’d already mapped 94 independent food banks operating across Scotland from April 2017 to September 2018 so I set about asking their managers and volunteer teams for any data they’d collected during that time. With increasing demand for emergency food supplies, these grassroots organisations are firefighting on a daily basis but their representatives were determined to help with our data collation. They knew that their work was unheard of and that we couldn’t understand the true scale of food bank use in Scotland without their input.
By now I’ve been able to count the number of food parcels that 84 of those 94 independent food banks gave out during that same 18-month period – April 2017 to September 2018. The results are shocking. Independent food banks, operating in 18 Scottish local authorities, distributed no less than 221,977 emergency food parcels. Added to the Trussell Trust’s distribution of 258,606 parcels, that makes a total of nearly half a million parcels given out by Scottish food banks.
As Evan Adamson of Instant Neighbour in Aberdeen said: “It’s truly staggering to think about how many people in our community and across Scotland are relying on emergency food aid.”
And this disaster on our doorstep is certainly greater than our figures reveal. We know that our statistics don’t include the emergency meals and other forms of food aid provided by countless independent organisations across Scotland, nor the people who don’t access food aid at all and try and find other ways to cope.
It doesn’t take much analysis to understand that with at least 709 more independent food banks operating in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the contribution of independent food banks represents a large missing piece of the UK charitable food aid picture.
And now we know much more about the scale of emergency food parcel provision in Scotland what can be done?
As Mary McGinley, Chair of Helensburgh and Lomond Foodbank in Argyll and Bute put it: “We are deeply dismayed by the rising demand for emergency food aid we’re seeing locally. We don’t want to be here; we would much rather see our political leaders address the causes of food insecurity through the introduction of the living wage, a better social security system and easier access to emergency welfare payments to allow people to buy their own food.”
We hope that the Scottish and UK Governments will take notice of this data and act urgently to address food insecurity. In Scotland, A Menu for Change is using these shocking new figures to urge the Scottish Government to bring in a promised income supplement for Scotland’s poorest families as soon as possible.
Further details of our research can be found here.
Sabine Goodwin is the Coordinator of the Independent Food Aid Network and led the research in Scotland with A Menu for Change. She would like to express her gratitude to the many independent food banks across Scotland contributing data and time to this project. http://www.foodaidnetwork.org.uk/food-bank-data-in-scotland
Read the text of the press release we have sent out ahead of the hand-in of our national petition calling on the UK government to Fix Universal Credit, at 10 Downing Street on Wednesday.
On World Food Day, October 16th 2018, the End Hunger UK campaign convened its second annual conference in Westminster to discuss the growing movement around household food insecurity in the UK. Charlie Spring of Sheffield University reports…
Nearly one in ten people in Scotland are Food Insecure
The figures released this week as part of the Scottish Health Survey help shed some light on the scale of food insecurity in Scotland. Imogen Richmond-Bishop from Sustain discusses why this shows we need routine food insecurity measurement across the U.K.
The Trussell Trust runs the UK’s largest network of foodbanks. However, they believe that hunger can’t be left to volunteers to solve. Tom Say, the Trussell Trust’s new campaign manager, explains why they are supporting End Hunger UK’s call for a reformed welfare system.
As part of our campaign to Fix Universal Credit, End Hunger is gathering stories from around the country of how the roll-out is affecting people. Ciaran’s story from the frontline at Huddersfield Welcome Centre shows the impact of delays and low benefits.
To help Fix Universal Credit, you can sign or download our petition here.
End Hunger UK launched our petition to Fix Universal Credit because of failings in the detail of the policy. This week, Child Poverty Action Group released a report on why the monthly assessment period leads to people losing support through no fault of their own. Lizzie Flew explains.
Crisis support schemes run by local authorities are failing to operate effectively with increasing numbers of destitute people turning instead to food banks and other voluntary agencies for help, according to a new report published by The Children’s Society and the Church of England, an End Hunger UK Partner. Tom Sefton from the Church of England, one of the report’s co-authors, writes more.