NEW statistics show the level of poverty across the North West is on the rise, as increasing numbers of adults and children are using food banks to survive.
And Blackburn has some of the highest numbers of people using its foodbank in the whole of Lancashire.
Figures from the Trussell Trust, the anti-poverty charity that supports more than 1,200 food banks across the UK, show that the total number of three-day emergency food supplies provided to people in crisis in the North West, from April to September this year sits at 111,385, with more than a third (42,950) going to children.
This is an increase of 15,284, or 16 per cent, from the same time period in 2018, the sharpest rate of increase the charity has seen for the past five years.
Out of this figure, 11,587 emergency supplies were given to people in Lancashire, with 4,658 of those being children.
Compared to figures from last year, an extra 1,005 emergency food supplies have been handed out in 2019 in Lancashire, with 672 of those going to children.
And between January and October this year, the Trussell Trust Foodbank in Blackburn has provided 8,762 emergency food supplies to people in crisis across the borough, an increase of 967 from the same time frame in 2018.
Manager of Blackburn Foodbank, Ros Duerden said: “Per head our numbers are among the highest in Lancashire. We are a charity and rely on the public's goodwill of the public. It’s important we stress how grateful we are as we always need their support.
“As in line with the rest of the north west we are seeing people struggling more and more. Their incomes just aren’t stretching far enough to pay rent and then buy food and we are seeing more and more people in the position that they need to come to us for help.
“When looking at people’s incomes, rather than looking at them before rent is taken out, we need to look at what’s left.”
The charity has reported that more people than ever before are being forced to food banks, and found April to September 2019 to be one of the busiest half-year periods for food banks in the North West since the charity opened.
The main reasons for people needing emergency food are benefits consistently not covering the cost of living, and delays or changes to benefits being paid, particularly with the five week wait for Universal Credit
Trussell Trust chief executive, Emma Revie, said: “Our benefits system is supposed to protect us all from being swept into poverty, but currently thousands of women, men and children are not receiving sufficient protection from destitution.”
Blackburn Foodbank provides a debt advice service. Visit blackburn.foodbank.org.uk.