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Foodbank hopes open days help foster campaign support

Coventry Foodbank is inviting people to a series of open days to learn more about its support for the Guarantee Our Essentials Campaign, which calls for the government to reform Universal Credit ensuring that essentials are affordable to all.

They are joining more than 100 foodbanks across the UK taking action to support the call for an Essentials Guarantee, hoping to build on the momentum of a Foodbank Day of Action event last month and a national petition, which already has more than 11,000 signatures.

The Guarantee Essentials Campaign is being run by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Trussell Trust, a charity supporting a network of more than 1,400 foodbank centres across the UK.

Since the start of the year, the city’s food bank has been forced to use its cash reserves to buy over 20 tons of food. Some 70% of people now referred to food banks are in receipt of Universal Credit but around 90% of low-income households receiving Universal Credit are going without at least one essential like food, a warm home or toiletries.

Coventry Foodbank, Essentials Campaign
Dee Ward with the campaign poster in the warehouse

A single person claiming universal credit in the UK receives £85 a week while a couple receives around £134. Research by The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has shown that a single person needs at least £120 a week to cover essential costs – while a couple needs at least £200 per week.

The continued struggle comes in the wake of concerning findings by the Trussell Trust’s ‘The State of Hunger report’ *– the largest ever study into hunger and foodbank use in the UK – which suggest that one in five people in the country has gone without food over the past year on a regular basis.

Visitors to open days at the Coventry warehouse in Progress Way, will have the chance to learn more about the campaign and how they can support it, as well as the various ways they can support the foodbank directly. They take place at 10am-1pm on October 7th and 10am-12pm on December 9th and 16th.

Dee Ward Project Manager, Coventry Foodbank said: “We hear it time and time again from the public we engage with that food banks should not be needed in this country, it’s wrong, it’s terrible. Sadly, for the most basic of items to help them survive the next few days, why should anyone be asking a charity for food, washing powder to wash their child’s school uniform or even a toilet roll because they cannot afford to buy it themselves?

“It is really important that people understand that if the basic universal benefit of £85 was raised to meet the core costs then people would not be pushed into a place where they need to visit a foodbank to support them and provide the most basic of essentials.

“To afford even these core essential costs a single person £120 a week, however the basic rate of Universal Credit is just £85 a week. This is already too low, yet people needing to use our food bank can have up to 25% of that deducted to repay debts, such as advance payments and budgeting loans from the Department for Work & Pensions.

Coventry Foodbank, Essentials Campaign
Coventry Labout MP , Zarah Sultana joins Foodbank volunteers to collect names for the Essentials Campaign petition last month.

“We’re proud of the work that we’re doing to help meet the needs of our community, but we don’t want to exist. We believe everyone should have enough money to be able to afford to buy food and other essentials. If you agree, then please sign up and add your support to those that have already done so.”

The current cost of living crisis has impacted everyone with higher energy costs, housing and mortgage rises and especially food costs. This year has seen donations plummet while demand for the service has risen exponentially.

Committing her continued support to the campaign, Zarah Sultana, Labour MP for Coventry South, said: “In one of the richest countries in the world, everyone should have enough to lead a decent life, but millions of people in Britain are struggling and it’s only got worse with the cost-of-living crisis.

“Parents tell me about having to skip meals so their kids have something to eat and I know people across the city fear the cold winter months and sky-high bills. And it’s heart-breaking to see that people who once donated to the Foodbank have now become reliant on its services.

“That’s why I am supporting the Guarantee the Essentials campaign, joining Coventry Foodbank to call on the Government to raise Universal Credit and ensure everyone has enough.”

“I pay tribute to the charities and volunteers in organisations like Coventry Foodbank and Feed The Hungry UK, who operate food banks to help those struggling to get by.”

To find out more about the Guarantee Our Essentials Campaign or sign the petition visit here

Visit Coventry Food bank here