Local food banks have said they are anticipating their busiest Christmas yet after reporting an increase in people using their services since the Universal Credit cut at the start of the month.
The foodbanks say the rising food and fuel prices and supply issues are also increasing demand for their services.
One food bank is having to ration products due to supply shortages.
Some food banks in Birmingham have also reported a drop in public donations.
Citizens Advice previously warned that a third of people on Universal Credit will end up in debt when the extra payment is removed.
Millions of families living in fuel poverty across the UK are also set to be the hardest hit this winter as wholesale gas prices reach record highs, pushing consumer energy bills up, and the West Midlands is the worst affected region in the UK with almost one in four families impacted by fuel poverty.
What are Birmingham foodbanks saying in their own words?
Imran Hameed, the founder of the Salma food bank in Smethwick, which allows families from across the West Midlands to use its services, said he has seen a rise in people using the food bank since the Universal Credit cut two weeks ago, and is preparing for an extremely busy Winter.
He said: “This will definitely be our busiest Christmas yet.
“We have seen an increase since the Universal Credit cut, and also a lot of people have come in complaining about having to pay extra for their energy - so it’ a bit of a mixture of those at the moment.”
Due to supply issues, which Imran thinks is due to HGV driver shortages, as well as a drop in donations, the Salma food bank is also having to ration food.
“For this week and a few more weeks coming it’s going to be a case of families only,” he said.
“People in shared accommodation are phoning us and saying we need food for our residents and we say ‘we’re really sorry but we’re having to ration’.
“Someone rang who is coming from Birmingham this afternoon and wanted 20 food parcels for 20 individuals and we can only give them 6 because that’s all we can give him at the moment.
“We are not going to be able to deal with single people and we don’t want to say no to anybody but that will have to be the case unfortunately.”
Tim Pereira manages the food bank at the community service group The Life House in Selly Oak.
He said he has also seen an increase in families using the food bank’s services in the last two weeks, and he is expecting it will be the busiest Christmas for the food bank in terms of numbers of new people using its services.
“We generally ask our clients what brought them to us and it has also been to do with benefits,” Tim told BirminghamWorld.
“Sometimes it can be due to delays, and we have had some clients denied disability benefits so it’s not only the £20 reduction, although our clients have been telling us it has been impacting them as well.
“We are anticipating a high demand this Christmas,” he added.
“It always ticks up around Christmas time and I think it’ll be busiest this year - that’s not necessarily to say we’ll be giving the most parcels out that we ever have - but it will be the busiest in terms of numbers of new clients that come to us.
“We might be giving out more than ever but I think the biggest challenge for us will be the number of new clients.”
Tim said the Life House has also seen a drop in donations and he anticipates the situation will get worse in the coming weeks and months.
“We are anticipating it will be getting worse,” he said. “Mainly because income has decreased and inflation has gone up particularly with energy costs, and our dilemma is we can’t solve hunger by giving out food parcels because that’s only a temporary measure. We do that but we don’t want people to get dependent on us because we can’t cover everybody
“So for every client we look after there are clients who don’t have anybody looking after them.”
Here’s how to help
If you would like to help or donate to the Selma food bank visit the website here.
You can donate by sending your shopping online: Choose any major online supermarket, pay for the goods and have them delivered to the food bank’s address.
Salma is also accepting gift cards from Asda, Tesco, Iceland and Farmfoods. Simply buy a gift card that the food bank can use in store to buy food with, and just send to address which can be found on the website.
You can also drop food off at the Salma food bank base in Smethwick.
If you would like to donate money to the Life House food bank you can do through the website here. Please note the the Life House is part of a church so you will be donating through a church website account.
Other than that the Life House accepts donations at its offices on Frederick Road in Selly Oak.
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