Midlothian foodbank usage doubled last Christmas

Stock photo of  Midlothian Foodbank in Gorebridge.
Stock photo of Midlothian Foodbank in Gorebridge.

Usage of foodbanks more than doubled in Midlothian last Christmas, figures from the UK’s biggest food bank network show.

The Trussell Trust is bracing for its busiest ever Christmas, with figures suggesting a record numbers of people in need will seek support this December.

In Midlothian, the charity handed out 951 three-day emergency food parcels last December, equivalent to 215 every week – including 490 (52 per cent) to children.

It meant the charity dished out 630 more parcels in the area than it did on average each month during 2018-19 – an increase of 196 per cent. Meanwhile, separate figures published by the charity show 16 per cent more food parcels were provided between April and September than the same six months just a year before – meaning demand is likely to be even higher this winter.

Trussell Trust chief executive Emma Revie warned that communities across the country are being pushed into poverty. She said: “Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy and celebration – but for too many people it’s becoming harder and harder to keep their heads above water.

“Nine in 10 of us believe hunger in the UK is a problem – foodbanks cannot and should not have to continue to pick up the pieces.”

The number of food parcels handed out across the charity’s UK sites last December was 44 per cent higher than the monthly average for the year. Since the figures do not include hundreds of other independent food banks around the country, many more parcels are likely to have been distributed over the period.

Ms Revie said she wanted candidates in the upcoming General Election to pledge to protect people from hunger.

“Our next government must start working towards a future where no one needs a food bank,” she said.

“It’s in our power to reach a future where everyone has enough money for the basics. This can change.”

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “We spend over £95 billion a year on working-age benefits, and Universal Credit supports more than 2.5 million people across the UK.

“With Universal Credit people can get paid urgently if they need it and 95 per cent of payments are made in full and on time.”