BRADFORD (AFP) – On an overcast morning in Bradford, northern England, a steady stream of locals arrive at a foodbank to collect produce parcels described as “a lifesaver” during the worst cost-of-living crisis in a generation.
Bradford Central Foodbank is helping twice as many people compared to pre-pandemic, as spiralling prices for energy, food and other basics leave a growing number of Britons struggling.
“The numbers since I’ve been a volunteer have only multiplied and I can only see it getting worse,” said Mr Karl Carroll, 33, who has relied on the parcels since 2019 and is now volunteering at the foodbank.
“I’ve barely got £40 (S$70) by the time I’ve paid everything out, so I imagine families are struggling in more ways,” he told AFP.
Mr Simon Jackson, 43, an unemployed former supermarket worker who is accessing long-term government sickness benefits, has been a foodbank user since February.
“It is a tougher time at the minute… the cost of living’s skyrocketed to a point of we’re having to use foodbanks a bit more,” he said.
Mr Jackson currently gets around £900 a month in various government support payments but, like Mr Carroll, once his bills are paid, there is little left over for food.
Rising prices are exacerbating the situation.
“Places like (this) here in Bradford are a lifesaver. They can really help balance your decisions – sometimes between the heating and eating,” he said.
One of the clearest signs of the crisis is the surge in foodbank use.
The Trussell Trust charity says its more than 1,400 affiliated sites handed out 2.1 million parcels in the past year – 830,000 of them to children – in a 14 percent increase on pre-pandemic levels.
Its central Bradford operation is hosted three days a week by a local church organisation, and can supply people with only three parcels within six months to manage demand.
They contain basics such as cereal, tinned soup, meat and fish, pasta, sauces, vegetables, biscuits, sugar, tea and coffee.
Started in 2011, it is one of around 30 free food providers now in the city of just over half a million residents, and currently helps around 1,000 people a month, said manager Josie Barlow.