Hinckley Area foodbank has been working in the borough of Hinckley and Bosworth since June 2012. We helps individuals and families in crisis. Local Agency professionals in the Hinckley area refer people to us using a food voucher. At our Foodbank Centres, Clients exchange their voucher for 3 days supply of food supplies.
In our experience the rolling out of Universal Credit has been a key cause of food insecurity in our area. Rolled out in our area in 2017 we saw an increase of 44%in vouchers fulfilled (40% more people) compared with the previous year. This increase continued to rise the following year 2018/19 with 28% more vouchers (30% more people). (Data runs from beginning April 1st to end March 31st of each year.) See Table 1
In 2017 the population of Hinckley and Bosworth Borough was 111,370
Hinckley Area Foodbank Voucher Breakdown by Year
Number of Vouchers
Total number of people
Equal to number of Meals
From the Hinckley and Bosworth Locality Profile (P.12 Burr, Megan. Legacy Maker, Cultural Services, Hinckley and Bosworth Council 2017 https://www.hbsha.org.uk/uploads/hinckley-and-bosworth-locality-profile-2017-v3.pdf) shows the breakdown of low income areas within the borough
Deprivation levels The Index of Multiple Deprivation analyses 7 different domains of deprivation; these include income, employment, education, health, crime, barriers to housing/services and living environment. Unfortunately, due to the varying environmental settings and differences within Hinckley and Bosworth between rural settings and urban settings, data analysing all 7 domains of deprivation is unavailable. Therefore, the best measure of deprivation will come from utilising income figures amongst the population. Figure 10 assesses the levels of income deprivation using IMD (2015) data. The figure highlights the percentage of the population in each electoral ward that is classified as being income deprived. In Hinckley and Bosworth the data has revealed that the mean average for the number of people who are income deprived is around 8.9% of the total population. Comparing our district average to other localities within Leicestershire, Hinckley and Bosworth middle the localities. Localities such as Charnwood have a higher mean at 9.2%, whereas Blaby on average have only 7.2% of the population as income deprived. The wards with the highest levels of income deprivation within Hinckley and Bosworth as illustrated in Figure 10 include, Earl Shilton, Barwell, Burbage St. Catherine’s and the four Hinckley wards and Ratby. The worst ward for income deprivation being Earl Shilton with 14.2% of the population suffering from income deprivation. On the other hand, the wards with the lowest levels of income deprivation include Twycross, Burbage Sketchley, Sketchley, Cadeby, Groby and Ambien all of which are more rural areas within the borough. The ward with the overall lowest income deprivation is Twycross with only 4.8% of their population suffering income deprivation. Ultimately, there is a diverse range of income deprivation levels between Earl Shilton with 14.2% being income deprived and Twycross with only 4.8% of the population being income deprived. Overall, this equates to a 10% difference in income.
The impact of moving onto Universal Credit on families who are already on a low income is marked, as they often do not have savings or funds to wait the 5 weeks that are in place before the first payment is made, causing them to go into debt and be unable to pay bills and buy food. From the data we have collected over the period working within the area, you can see the type of crisis that our clients present when using the foodbank in Table 2.
Of the total 10553 vouchers presented, 3458 were for people on low income. However the 5 week wait delaying the payment of benefits has affected 2866 voucher holders and being changed from one benefit to another has affected 1725 voucher holders (rolled out in 2018 in HBBC area) over and above the low income statistic.
Child Holiday Meals
No recourse to public funds
Refused STBA/Crisis loan
Even though we have been one of the first areas to have UC rolled out there does not seem to be a decrease in the numbers of people needing foodbanks. On a local level, we seem to be seeing more families
(2016/17 240 vouchers,
2017/18 330 vouchers,
2018/19 441 vouchers,
To date (19th Aug ’19) 2019/20 we have had 142 vouchers).
The role of foodbanks and other charities have not only fed numerous families and individuals, but have also increased the awareness of food poverty.
Our own data at Hinckley Area Foodbank, and the Trussell Trusts data, shows that foodbanks, as well as other organisations, are feeding a significant number of people every week. Locally we fed 5,948 people over a 12 month period and nationally 1.6 million people used a foodbank across the UK (Trussell Trust data).
It shows that there are people who have previously coped with the demands on their earnings or benefits have now needed to call on foodbanks as they have been tipped over the line into a state of food or fuel poverty.
The aim of the Trussell Trust is one of reducing the need for foodbanks by having a more comprehensive approach to the benefit system and reduce further, or remove the 5 weeks wait for payments to be made of benefits, and the living wage to be paid rather than the minimum wage.
David Cameron’s ideology of ‘The Big Society’ seemingly has given Government the free reign to abdicate their responsibilities for people on the margins of society, through low income, illness or unemployment; the very people that need to use foodbanks. The reliance on the community giving significant help to people who have been supported by the welfare system has increased. We should not be used as a Government backstop. We were set up as a crisis service, with the guidance of giving 3 vouchers within 6 months. The Universal Credit and Benefit Loans system see us issuing more vouchers than we should be. You cannot turn a parent away when you know their children will not be fed due to circumstances when they cannot access benefits that they are entitled to. For a visual breakdown of a single persons outgoings after taking out a Benefits Loan please see Trussell trusts ‘Could you last 5 weeks without any money?’ https://twitter.com/trusselltrust/status/1123982494951514114?lang=en
As more people need to use foodbanks there will come a time when our public donations will not match the demand.
At the Hinckley Area Foodbank, we receive and distribute approximately one tonne of food every week, there is not an endless stock for us to call upon. We have no magic pot of money to purchase endless amounts of food. We have no call on government funds other than bidding for grants at a local level, which are stretched across the whole raft of charities in the area. All our finances and food come from donations and volunteers.
Foodbanks meet many clients who have been through various agencies before they arrive at our door. They are very often feeling frustrated, ashamed and their esteem has been ground down. It takes a great deal of courage and resignation to ask for our help. In effect their dignity has been battered. We try our utmost to give that dignity back to our clients. For someone needing a foodbank, food poverty is not just about not having enough food, it’s about how they are made to feel asking complete strangers to feed their family. There is a sense of failure and shame that people feel when they need our services.
Foodbanks offer more than food, they signpost people to agencies that may be able to help them out of their present crisis. This support is just as important as the food we give. The listening ear, the helping hand and the non-judgemental attitudes of our volunteers enables our clients to have a sense of dignity again.
29 August 2019