Scotsman Foodbanks appeal: All it takes is one missed pay cheque and you could be using a foodbank

‘The poverty we see is so visceral, but you would never know about it’ says Fiona Dalgiesh, the development manager at Peeblesshire Foodbank.

Poverty, and using a foodbank, are very private matters, and it’s people from all walks of life. It could be your neighbour, and you would never know about it.

“I saw a few weeks ago, a lady who had three children and a ten-week-old baby that was delivered by C-section, who had to go back to work to do shifts as a chambermaid because she couldn't make ends meet.

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“She was still healing, but needed to feed her children. To me that was a literal horror story.

A volunteer with a packing list selecting items from it for the food parcel in the food bank warehouse
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“There are people here that you would never know in a billion years.

“There are people who live in big houses with nice cars, whose life is built on credit, and people who've got bad debts. A poor person doesn't always wear rags and sit with an empty coffee cup in the high street.”

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Behind the affluent visage of Peeble’s High Street, with its artisanal bakeries and wine specialists, is a world of rural, hidden poverty, which is growing exponentially.

Two weeks ago, Peeblesshire foodbank had its busiest week since its doors opened in 2013 - giving out over 100 food parcels to a town of around 9,000 people. Year on year, the number of people the food bank has helped has increased by 49 percent, and tragically, the number of children the food bank has fed has increased by 79 percent.

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“It shows the demographic has really shifted,” says Fiona.

“Before it was maybe mostly single people who needed help because their benefits are pretty slender.

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“But it's families now that we're seeing the majority of, we're seeing a lot of working families which, to me, that's really, really tough, because these are people that never thought they would need to ask for help with anything, but a budget can only stretch how far it can stretch.”

The Trussell Trust is warning that foodbanks face the hardest winter yet as it prepares to provide a predicted 1.3 million emergency food parcels in the next six months, including half a million for children. Today, The Scotsman is launching a ‘Help for Foodbanks’ campaign to support their work and the charity’s first ever emergency appeal over the winter.

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The charity, which supports a network of 1,300 food bank centres, has experienced a dramatic increase in levels of need that has led to them distributing 46 percent more emergency food parcels in August and September than they did in 2021.

This means that for the first time ever the gap between donations and food being distributed is widening and foodbanks have already used up the reserve stock that would normally help them get through winter.

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“I think it's hitting donations because the financial crisis is affecting everybody,” says Kerry Dennis, one of the food bank’s longest serving workers.

“So people who used to put six items in the donation bin at the supermarket, probably just put in two or three now.

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“There have been several months where our outgoing weight is almost double what's come in. In the past that hasn't always been the case, but now the stock is definitely going down.”

The new appeal will ensure that foodbanks can continue to support the rising number of people facing hunger and hardship this winter.

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Emma Revie, CEO of the Trussell Trust, explains: “Faced with the perfect storm of rising energy prices, inflation and a potential recession that is pushing people deeper into poverty, the soaring cost of living is driving a tsunami of need to food banks.

“Through this emergency appeal we hope to raise the vital funds required to ensure that food banks can meet this devastating rise in need and continue to support people who are experiencing hardship.

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“We never wanted to run an appeal like this, we would rather there was no need for food banks at all. But right now they are on the frontline of this cost of living emergency, we have no other option.”

Christmas is an emotional time for the staff and volunteers at food banks, as demand skyrockets and tragic circumstances take on added poignance.

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“Christmas probably doubles or triples demand,” adds Fiona.

People spend their money on presents. Everybody wants their kids to have the best time.

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“People come home for Christmas too, and they fall out, have family dramas, and end up homeless.

“Last year we had two guys sleeping in tents and one in an outhouse. Then in January that demand is sustained because people spent everything on Christmas.”

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Olivia Brunton, a volunteer at the foodbank, says “nobody knows what's going on behind a closed door”: “You can have a really strong facade and not know, and people don't like to talk about it.

“There's a lot of stigma and there's a lot of quickly changing situations. All it takes is one missed pay cheque. All it takes is a redundancy at work. All it takes is a sudden illness in the family, or your car breaks down.

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“The line nowadays between being totally fine and having nothing is maybe a bit closer than you'd like to think, given the current economic situation.”

There are a number of ways Scotsman readers can help the Trussell Trust.

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Make a financial donation, to the Trussell Trust, in support of the Emergency Appeal Fund, with the details below.

Donate food and toiletries to your local food bank. Visit trusselltrust.org to find you nearest food bank, view the list of items that they need most and locate your nearest collection point.

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Check your local food bank’s website and social media to see if they need any volunteering support.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

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Along with National World titles across the UK, The Scotsman is encouraging readers to donate what they can to support foodbanks this winter.

There are a number of ways readers can help the Trussell Trust.

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Make a financial donation, to the Trussell Trust, in support of the Emergency Appeal Fund at www.trusselltrust.org/nationalworld/

Donate food and toiletries to your local food bank. Visit trusselltrust.org to find you nearest food bank, view the list of items that they need most and locate your nearest collection point.

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Check your local food bank’s website and social media to see if they need any volunteering support.

This winter is going to be the toughest yet for foodbanks as they are faced with increased demand need and soaring operational costs.

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The charity’s long term goal is a future without emergency food, where everyone has the income and support they need to get by.

Every penny raised by the Trussell Trusts emergency appeal will go towards helping foodbanks keep going this winter by funding:

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Grants to foodbanks to respond to the crisis this winter by helping to cover their increased running costs for food, facilities and frontline staff, as well as winter-specific support for people facing hardship.Additional support to foodbanks to help navigate the crisis including access to regional and national expertise to ensure they can continue to serve their community.Direct advice on finances to help tens of thousands of people maximise their income via the charity’s Help through Hardship helpline, that is run in partnership with Citizens Advice, and through one-to-one support sessions at food banks to help people through this crisis and beyond.

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