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Shock rise in food handouts in Brent

PUBLISHED: 18:06 31 August 2017

Michele Lawrence, manager of Brent Foodbank, run by the Trussell Trust

Michele Lawrence, manager of Brent Foodbank, run by the Trussell Trust

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Thousands of families - including 948 children - are relying on foodbanks as the amount using the vital service to survive has increased by 200 per cent in three years.

Cllr Roxanne Mashari with Mohammed Mamdani the director of SufraCllr Roxanne Mashari with Mohammed Mamdani the director of Sufra

The shocking number has ballooned from 1,100 to 3,343 people seeking food handouts as they struggle to pay rent and feed their families.

Brent Foodbank, run by the Trussell Trust, has seen an increase in the numbers accessing their services shoot to 61pc, since opening its doors in 2011.

And with other independent foodbanks operating in Brent, the situation is at crisis point, prompting Brent Coucil to lead a project investigating the problem nationwide.

A scrutiny panel made up of six Brent councillors and experts from West London Business, Child Poverty Action Group, the TUC and The Trussell Trust, aims to understand the triggers for foodbank usage.

Cllr Roxanne Mashari, chair of the task group, said: “In the absence of a comprehensive policy approach to foodbanks from central government, Brent is leading the way by gathering our own evidence, developing policies and innovating for change.

“In 2017 it should shame us all that anyone should have to choose between paying their rent or feeding their family.

“We need to look at the underlying causes of why people are being forced to use food banks as a last resort and how public, voluntary and private sector partners can work more strategically together to make sure people are getting the help and support they need.”

Children in receipt of the Trussel Trust’s three day food handouts shot up from 438 in 2014 to 948 by March this year. Food parcel distribution is also carried out by social welfare charities, children’s centres, churches, housing associations and other groups.

The panel will interview organisations including government departments, the NHS, and employers who may not know staff are in receipt of help, and hope to publish their findings in November.

Alison Garnham, chief executive of Child Poverty Action Group, said: “To keep children out of foodbanks, we need to know why they have to be there. What are the tipping points that put ‘just managing’ families in crisis?

To share your experiences of foodbanks, email: scrutiny@brent.gov.uk or write to Cllr Mashari, Freepost, Brent Civic Centre, Engineers Way, HA9 0FJ.

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