Surge in foodbank use last Christmas in Falkirk and West Lothian

The UK's biggest food bank network the Trussell Trust is bracing for its busiest ever Christmas.
The UK's biggest food bank network the Trussell Trust is bracing for its busiest ever Christmas.

Foodbanks in Falkirk handed out more than 100 emergency parcels a week last December, while foodbank usage surged by more than 40 per cent in West Lothian last Christmas.

The UK’s biggest foodbank network the Trussell Trust is bracing for its busiest ever Christmas, with figures suggesting a record numbers of people in need will seek support this December.

In Falkirk, the charity handed out 584 three-day emergency food parcels last December, equivalent to 132 every week – including 212 (36 per cent) to children. Despite this, the charity recorded an 11 per cent decrease in demand in the area, compared to the monthly average for 2018-19.

Meanwhile, separate figures published by the charity show 14 per cent fewer food parcels were provided between April and September than the same six months just a year before – meaning demand is likely to be lower this winter.

In West Lothian, the charity handed out 680 three-day emergency food parcels last December, equivalent to 154 every week – including 304 (45 per cent) to children. It meant the charity recorded a 41 per cent increase in demand in the area, compared to the monthly average for 2018-19.

Meanwhile, separate figures published by the charity show 35 per cent more food parcels were provided between April and September than the same six months just a year before – meaning demand is likely to be even higher this winter.

Trussell Trust chief executive Emma Revie warned that communities across the country are being pushed into poverty.

She said: “Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy and celebration – but for too many people it’s becoming harder and harder to keep their heads above water.

“Nine in 10 of us believe hunger in the UK is a problem – foodbanks cannot and should not have to continue to pick up the pieces.”

The number of food parcels handed out across the charity’s UK sites last December was 44 per cent higher than the monthly average for the year.

More than 186,000 parcels were given away during the month, of which two in five went to children.

Since the figures do not include hundreds of other independent food banks dotted around the country, many more parcels are likely to have been distributed over the period.

Ms Revie said she wanted candidates in the upcoming General Election to pledge to protect people from hunger.

“Our next government must start working towards a future where no one needs a foodbank,” she said.

“It’s in our power to reach a future where everyone has enough money for the basics. This can change.”

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “We spend over £95 billion a year on working-age benefits, and Universal Credit supports more than 2.5 million people across the UK.

“With Universal Credit people can get paid urgently if they need it and 95 per cent of payments are made in full and on time.”