Wednesday 3 December 2014

Sheffield City Council announces the set-up of a new project aimed at providing advice for the growing number of people using food banks in the city.

The new advice service for food bank users will ensure more people can access advice and guidance providing support to help tackle the root causes of poverty. It will be set up by Sheffield Citizens Advice and will cover issues such as financial advice and employment support.

The project is receiving £180,000 funding from the council and work is underway to get it running as soon as possible. The money will be spent on setting up new support services and is targeted at supporting some of the most vulnerable people in the city who have been most impacted by the government welfare reforms and cost of living crisis. An additional £120,000 is also being given to support organisations providing crisis food support, to establish a base level food supply to keep the city’s food banks stocked and to provide extra support to homeless people throughout the winter months.

Research launched last week by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation highlighted that record numbers of working families are in poverty due to low paid jobs and as many people from working families are now in poverty as from workless ones.

Councillor Mazher Iqbal, Cabinet Member for Communities and Public Health, said: “We know that some of the poorest people in the city are being hit hardest by the cost of living crisis. Increasingly a combination of low wages and rising prices is forcing people into poverty and the use of food banks has grown. This project will provide support to people who most affected by helping to tackle the root causes of the issues through providing financial advice and employment support.”

Andy Buck, Chief Executive of Sheffield Citizens Advice, said: “Many of our clients face increasing hardship, especially during winter. We are very pleased to be working with the council and with food banks to provide both emergency support to people in urgent need and to provide them with advice and support to help them overcome the root causes of poverty.”

There are 16 food banks in operation in Sheffield. Since benefit changes were introduced in April 2013, their use has increased by 170 percent.

Robert Drost, Chair of the Sheffield Food Bank Network, said: “The Sheffield Food Bank Network is made up of 18 church-based projects and is one of a number of groups around the city looking at food poverty and its causes. For some time, we have been working in partnership with the council, giving advice and statistics to help them produce and deliver a strategy on food poverty.

“Food banks are a very well used resource offered by the voluntary sector and we are delighted that this work has been recognised by the council and welcome the various funding pots to help some of the most vulnerable members of our communities. As well as offering food, it is hoped that this funding will help develop work with other agencies, like Sheffield Citizens Advice, by having trained people helping with advice around food poverty at the existing food bank centres.”