Northern Ireland

Record numbers using food banks in Northern Ireland says charity

Around 90,375 emergency food parcels were given out by food banks in the Trussell Trust network last year

Food banks could hand out more than one million emergency parcels this winter, the Trussell Trust has predicted (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Food banks in the north delivered over 90,000 parcels in the past year (Jonathan Brady/PA)

A record number of emergency food parcels were handed out in Northern Ireland in the last 12 months, according to a food bank charity.

The Trussell Trust has revealed that the north has seen the biggest increase in the number of people accessing food banks across all the UK regions, with figures more than doubling over the last five years.

The charity said in the last year almost 40,000 people had turned to charity for essentials like food, with almost 24,000 using a food bank for the first time.

Nearly 75% of the parcels distributed by the charity’s network were allocated to families with children, while the number of parcels allocated to pension-age households doubled.

According to the charity extremely low incomes and problems with debt were amongst the most common reasons cited by people accessing food banks.

Jonny Currie from the Trussell Trust said: “People are unable to afford the essentials, and this is forcing more people to the doors of food banks than ever before.

“Everyone in Northern Ireland should be able to afford the essentials - to buy their own food and heat their homes.

“In this election year, this is the issue the that we can’t afford to ignore.

“All political parties must set out how they will to build a future where no one needs a food bank to survive.

“We know what needs to change to help people who can’t afford the essentials and we need parties all to act.”

The number of charities seeing people aged 18-25 accessing food support has doubled in a year
The Trussell Trust is calling for action from the UK government and the Northern Ireland Executive

Mr Currie added: “In addition to action from the UK government, the Northern Ireland Executive must deliver a budgeted anti-poverty strategy with clear interventions that will end the rising need for emergency food in Northern Ireland.

“If they don’t, we will be faced with another generation of children who are growing up believing that food banks are a normal part of life –-instead of an extraordinary measure to mitigate the failings of our social security system.”