Danger foodbanks could become a fixture of welfare support

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​New report shows foodbank dependency in Scotland is increasing 

12th February 2015 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Scotland faces a “real danger” of emergency food aid becoming a permanent feature of the welfare landscape, a new report claims.

Research by the Poverty Alliance, launched today at the country’s newest foodbank in Airdrie, shows more than 160 groups and organisations are now providing emergency food aid in Scotland – with the figure set to increase. .

And as welfare cuts become increasingly harsh the report found that clients were turning to these organisations not just for food but emotional support too.

While the foodbank concept originated in faith-based groups and churches, the report found this has massively diversified to include community food projects, housing associations as well as community and voluntary organisations.

The report concludes that more effort should be concentrated on how emergency food aid providers can better connect people with mainstream support services.

Providers working in partnership with other services have been shown to offer better support to those in need, connecting them to the advice and support required to address underlying issues which have led them to access emergency food aid in the first place.

Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance, said: “We need to build on the good work that food aid providers are already doing. Volunteers are providing help to people experiencing real difficulties in often complex circumstances. 

We need to ensure that we are developing policy solutions that address the root causes of food poverty - Peter Kelly

“There is a need to develop partnership working between emergency food aid providers to share ideas, experiences and good practice.

“In the longer term we need to ensure that we are developing policy solutions that address the root causes of food poverty."

The Scottish Government is funding the Poverty Alliance to continue to work with foodbanks in Scotland and Alex Neil, cabinet secretary for social justice, communities and pensioners' rights told TFN there was full government recognition for the vital support these groups are providing.

He said: “There are 230,000 people in Scotland classed as living in poverty. We need to look at what we can do as a government, within the constraints of Westminster funding, to see what we can do to lift these people out of poverty.”

The Trussell Trust has reported a 12 fold increase in usage of emergency food aid in just three years – in 2011/12 5726 people in Scotland accessed food aid, while in 2013/14 that figure was 71,428.

Trussell Trust Scotland network manager Ewan Gurr said the voluntary sector has an openness to exploring fresh ways in which it can enhance the level of support people are offered.

“We welcome the report and believe it is important for us, as well as other food providers, to digest the findings. It has always been my ultimate desire that our foodbanks are places where dignity is restored, hope is revived and the support is comprehensive and robust," he said. 

The Poverty Alliance has developed a web-based resource to assist those delivering emergency food aid better link with mainstream services such as Citizen’s Advice Scotland as well as with other information and links to key support services