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Demand for food aid in Hackney doubles after benefit changes are introduced

PUBLISHED: 12:29 08 May 2013 | UPDATED: 12:29 08 May 2013

Hackney Food Bank Manager Liza Cucco, right, with volunteer Judith Grylls.

Hackney Food Bank Manager Liza Cucco, right, with volunteer Judith Grylls.

Archant

Demand for food aid in the borough has more than doubled in the wake of changes to benefits last month, according to a charity giving free meals to the deprived.

The Hackney Foodbank has helped two times the number of people it normally would in the second half of April, giving out 1,360 meals over the two-week period.

A total of 10,680 meals has been provided since the charity, based at St Matthias Church in Wordsworth Road, Stoke Newington, with a secondary distribution centre at St John’s in Pitfield Street, Hoxton, was set up in September.

Manager Liza Cucco said: “The number of people coming has doubled since last month. The increase that’s happened right now is likely because of the changes to the benefit system. We are seeing quite large numbers of people who would have formerly got some crisis support from the JobCentre. A lot of these people are being referred to us.

”Crisis funding is no longer being administered by the Department for Work and Pensions [but] by the council, and because so many changes are happening, it is taking longer for people to get the right sort of help. Hopefully this will improve soon.”

Voucher

The Hackney Foodbank is an independent charity initially set up by the Shoreditch Group, a network of churches in the area working on social justice issues. It is part of the Trussell Trust network of food banks.

People are referred to the food bank by agencies such as the Citizens Advice Bureau or housing associations and are given a voucher entitling them to three day’s worth of meals.

Ms Cucco, 31, who is from America, got involved in the project through Grace Church Hackney, where she worships. There are 60 volunteers who help at the food bank.

Ms Cucco said there was not one particular type of person using the food bank, adding: “We see people from a wide range of strata, from struggling young families to young jobseekers to ex-offenders making a new start. Our clients reflect what Hackney looks like.

“The thing we care about is people being helped. No one in Hackney or the UK should be going hungry. If someone is broke and has no money or is trying to feed their children, we give them one less thing to worry about in the short term while they find a better solution.”

n. Businesses, schools or residents wishing to give food, storage space, money or time to the food bank should email info@hackney.foodbank.org.uk.


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