The use of food banks across the area is at nearly double the level to what it was five years ago as the crippling cost of living crisis impacts working families within the new Bridgwater constituency.
Data released by the Trussell Trust this month shows a total of 4,950 emergency food parcels were delivered to people within Sedgemoor in the period from April 1, 2023 to September 30, 2023, including 1,757 parcels for children.
This compares to a total of 2,579 parcels distributed by Trussell Trust food banks in Sedgemoor in the corresponding period in 2018.
Claire Sully, the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for the new Bridgwater constituency which includes Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge, claims the latest figures amount to “an abject failure of the Conservative government to adequately ensure the most basic wellbeing of residents from across the new Bridgwater constituency and the UK.”
“These shocking figures of rising emergency food bank use in Sedgemoor have grown exponentially under the cost-of-living crisis in recent years,” says Claire.
“It should not be the role of charity to ensure people can meet their most basic food requirement. It is becoming an ever-more drastic situation which requires immediate solutions and support.”
The damning report revealed that a shocking 1.5 million emergency food parcels had been handed out to families within the Trussell Trust network so far this year across the whole of the UK, more than in any previous year, and represents a 16% rise to the figures released in 2022, with the Trust’s report describing food banks to be at ‘breaking point’. Of people in the UK who received food parcels this year, the research shows 65% were families with children.
While the risk to the most vulnerable residents within the new Bridgwater constituency remains at an all-time high, the cost-of-living crisis is now significantly impacting those with livelihoods traditionally perceived as stable, as well as the elderly and those with special needs.
Claire says she last week met with an employee of an NHS general practice in the new Bridgwater constituency who described the desperate situation of some of their most vulnerable patients, as well as NHS colleagues who had required the use of food banks to meet their daily needs, their situation a direct cause of the worsening cost-of-living crisis.
“We’re struggling to get food for those who don’t fit the classic demographics,” said the NHS worker, who requested to remain anonymous.
“We’re having people with learning difficulties needing to go to food banks to get food. There are elderly patients, those in their 80s and 90s, whose pensions are not reaching their day-to-day needs having to reach out to food banks. Even medical practice employees and nurses at our surgery have had to reach out to food banks to meet their daily needs, simply because their wages, which are above the minimum, don’t stretch to meet their requirements.”