There has been lots in the news over the last 12 months on the rise of food banks. The Trussell Trust, which runs 400 food banks across the UK, said it handed out supplies to 350,000 people between April and September 2013. Shockingly a third of those being helped were children.
Headlines have been full of stories and opinions on why this increase is happening; from Edwina Currie saying that people who use food banks spend their money on dog food and tattoos to the House of Commons debate and the rise of food poverty bloggers and campaigners such as Jack Monroe (http://agirlcalledjack.com/)
Whatever your thoughts on this matter it is clear that people are more and more in need of emergency food. With this in mind I went to meet Emily O’Brian a project manager at Brighton & Hove Food Partnership, (http://www.bhfood.org.uk/support-for-you/)a not for profit organisation which works with all aspects of food. In July 2013, in light of the rise of food banks locally (there were 3 and now there are 10), the Food Partnership started facilitating the Food Banks and Emergency Food Networking Meeting which bought together organisations from across the city to ‘share common problems, learn from each others good practice and develop joint solutions’.
One of the key areas for development is the relationship between food banks and the advice sector. Food poverty is often an outcome of underlying problems such as debt or benefits issues (a third of people accessing food banks are doing so because of delays in benefits payments) and while food banks help with the immediate crisis they can’t necessarily help with the root cause.
There have been pilot schemes; the Social Inclusion Team from Brighton & Hove City Council did an advice surgery at the food bank in Bevendean but there is work yet to be done. I would love to hear from anyone working either in food banks or the advice sector who has ideas on strengthening links and providing a more holistic service to those people in need.
Tweet me @TessAdvice with #advicebrighton, email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or comment here!