Warnings food bank demand may increase due to 'perfect storm' of problems

Shropshire Food Poverty Alliance says food banks across the region are bracing themselves for a 'perfect storm' that could see demand increase further.

The end of furlough and the Universal Credit bump of £20 a week, along with an increase in energy prices will all stretch household budgets even more.

Some 19,000 people in Shropshire receive Universal Credit and have seen their weekly budget cut.

Data from a Shropshire food bank reveals that demand for its services has increased year-on-year since organisers began keeping records in 2010.

The data from Ludlow food bank also shows a roughly 10-fold increase in the demand for food parcels in the area since the bank started operating in 2005.

Ruth Davies, who runs the food bank, began properly compiling data around 2008.

"I remember in our first year we handed out about 30 food parcels. This year we are averaging between 30 and 35 parcels each month," Ruth explained.

Increasing demand for Ludlow Foodbank's services

The numbers from Ludlow show a dramatic increase in the demand for the food bank's help. In 2010, a total of 73 food parcels were handed out. Last year the figure was 560.

The busiest months throughout the year are typically December and January.

Since Ruth began collecting the data, December has always been the busiest month of the year.

She said: "I think that there are a number of factors that make December and January busier, including Christmas expenses, heating costs and having children home from school.

"I suspect that in December our Christmas hamper scheme may also encourage some families to seek help, knowing that they will also receive Christmas gifts and goodies.

December is by far the busiest month year-on-year

"At other times of the year they are perhaps more content to 'get by somehow', but with the pressure to make Christmas special for their children, they may not be able to afford it all, which is where our help comes in.

"I also think that those who didn't receive help in December and have spent everything on Christmas - and heating - reach a point in January where they do need help.

"The pressure on people to spend big at Christmas is intense, and for those living on the breadline it is very depressing."

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