There are 445 Trussell Trust foodbanks in the UK. In 2015, the figures showed a 19% annual increase in foodbank use. I interviewed Dorothea Hackman from the Camden Foodbank to find out more.
Dorothea: I didn’t want to be involved in running a foodbank, but I am a school governor and I know that if children do not get enough food, then they cannot learn.
We have made a massive impact on the local community, because there are now sixty households every week with food on the table who without us would not have had food. The week before Easter we couldn’t move for parents. In the school holidays children don’t get free school meals. Therefore it is a crisis for the family. It could happen to any of us, suddenly no food on the table.
Anisah: Does the foodbank need more food or more money?
Dorothea: More money. I have organised the food. When this started, I was thinking this is short-lived. Unfortunately I was wrong! So we are sitting tight for another ten years. We need a paid coordinator and to rent premises that are suitable.
Anisah: What do you want the world to know about foodbanks?
Dorothea: Foodbanks should not exist, but if they have to exist then we must ensure that the people who use them are treated with respect. I am so angry when I see articles on foodbanks by journalists who have gone underground, as if it is a crime to use a foodbank, and then write exposés on how foodbanks are just supporting a bunch of scroungers! They are not scroungers, they are our neighbours and they could easily be us!
Anisah: With the government’s new austerity measures ? benefit sanctions, zero-hour contracts, and the change for families on Job Seeker’s Allowance (where all the benefits go to the head of the household, even though they may not be good at budgeting) – things look bleak. Dorothea wants us to change the way we think about foodbanks. She will have a battle on her hands, but I think she will win!
This is the link for Camden Food Bank: camden.foodbank.org.uk
Article by Anisah Rahman (aged 12)
Statistics sourced from Trussell Trust