Cracking Under The Pressure
Working families are amongst those struggling to feed children this Easter – but new figures are the ‘tip of the iceberg’ of the food poverty crisis.
* One in five parents with jobs have had to choose between eating or paying an essential bill
* 78 percent of working families have cut back on their household spending over the last 12 months
* Foodbank charity Trussell Trust’s ‘Help Crack UK Hunger’ Easter Appeal set to help families facing hunger
Working families are cracking under the pressure of rising bills, a new report from the Trussell Trust and parenting site Netmums reveals.
Despite bringing in a wage, one in five families has had to choose between paying an essential bill or putting food on the table. A huge 78 percent of parents in working families admit rising bills and stagnant incomes mean they are struggling to balance household budgets, and have slashed family spending over the last 12 months. 1 in 40 working Netmums families have used a foodbank.
Working parents are cutting back on the most basic treats, buying children an average of just one or two small eggs this Easter, down from a national average of eight per child three years ago.
The study comes as *new figures released by Trussell Trust next week reveal that UK foodbank use has soared in the last year, with hundreds of thousands being referred to Trussell Trust foodbanks for three days’ emergency food in just 12 months.
But the figures are believed to be the ‘tip of the iceberg’, with tens of thousands of needy working families struggling to get by and not going to foodbanks because they are too ashamed to ask for help, or because there isn’t one near them. Over 70 percent of those asked would only use a foodbank if they were ‘absolutely desperate’.
To combat the growing hunger at home problem, the Trussell Trust, which runs a network of over 400 UK foodbanks, is launching its Easter Campaign ‘Help Crack UK Hunger’, asking people to donate £3, the cost of a small Easter egg to help foodbanks meet the rising need.
The poll of 2,000 families quizzed parents on incomes ranging from minimum wage to six-figure salaries. It found despite working hard, 56 percent have begun to buy cheaper food in the last 12 months in an attempt to make ends meet.
One quarter in the survey said they will be buying fewer Easter eggs this year; with 71 percent adding that they would rather their children had a maximum of two eggs each.
One mum who took part in the survey said ‘With salaries being frozen, huge childcare bills and increased household bills things are tight for most families and will continue to get difficult for most’.
Forty three percent of those surveyed admitted that they are only ‘just about coping’ with balancing their family budgets, and a quarter stated they have suffered stress as a result of not eating properly.
One Mum added ‘Life is hard right now and money is so tight we are permanently in overdraft. We try our best but whatever I do it never seems good enough. Help is what we need. I have health problems anyway and all this stress does not help and my son now knows I am sick which I never wanted.’
Chris Mould, Chairman of The Trussell Trust, says: ‘We’re already seeing families whose incomes are stretched to breaking point turn to foodbanks because they cannot afford food. We’re glad that the economy appears to have turned a corner, but we can’t ignore UK food poverty which is reality for millions of British citizens who are struggling to make ends meet. We urge people to take part in our ‘Help Crack UK Hunger’ appeal and donate whatever they can to help raise funds for foodbanks. As well as meeting the growing need and raising the profile of UK hunger, it helps local people realise they can be part of the solution.’
Siobhan Freegard, co-founder of Netmums.com says: ‘Easter is supposed to symbolise abundance and new life – but there are tens of thousands of families in Britain barely surviving and living their lives on the breadline. Studies show Brits munch their way through 90 million Easter Eggs each year, shelling out a huge £500m on them. Just cutting back on one egg per family and donating the cash to the Trussell Trust could help fund its services to expand and help even more families in need.’
Trussell Trust Foodbanks not only provide three days’ nutritionally balanced emergency food to people in crisis, but also signposting to services that will help them move on from their crisis, as well as providing a listening ear.
A grateful single parent in low paid work who was recently helped by the Trussell Trust says ‘It’s a constant battle. Some days I don’t eat at all. We don’t have treats: that grinds you down after a while. This year I bought a pair of shoes for the first time in 6 years: that was my treat. You work hard and have nothing to show for it.’
To support Help Crack UK Hunger appeal, please donate by: Texting EGGS88 (then the amount, i.e.: £3) to 70070 or donate online at www.trusselltrust.org/easter-appeal, or visit
www.justgiving.com/crack-uk-hunger. Alternatively send a cheque payable to ‘The Trussell Trust’ to Unit 10, Ashfield Trading Estate, Ashfield Rd, Salisbury, SP2 7HL.
Downloadable resources and more ideas can be found at www.trusselltrust.org/easter-appeal