Cost of living crisis: Food banks in Birmingham struggling after increase in users

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The founder of Salma Food Bank in Smethwick has said he has seen a 40% increase in users during the last couple of months due to rising energy bills

The cost of living crisis is putting food banks in Birmingham under strain as more people are being forced to use them.

Many people struggling to pay utility bills are being driven to use food banks,with the steep rises in gas and electricity bills affecting homes up and down the country.

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Increasing utility bills are forcing those who also work full-time to seek out food banks, said Imran Hameed, founder of Salma Food Bank in Smethwick. Families from across Birmingham and the West Midlands travel to Salma fo help, and he said there has been a 40% increase in food bank users in the last couple of months.

Imran Hameed, founder of Bearded BrozImran Hameed, founder of Bearded Broz
Imran Hameed, founder of Bearded Broz | Local TV

Whether it’s families, single parents, or pensioners, - the Smethwick food bank is seeing an increase everywhere. “People are having to choose between eating and heating,” said Mr Hameed.

He added that he’s struggling to keep the food bank going but he is looking towards the community to “step up”. However, even the donors are struggling since they are now being forced to use food banks, he said. He’s seen those earning around 1200 after tax who have mortgage and energy bills to pay with maxed out credit cards coming in. Many of them belong to professions like social work, teaching assitant, any support work.

Food bank volunteers packing food parcels (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)Food bank volunteers packing food parcels (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)
Food bank volunteers packing food parcels (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images) | Getty Images

With schools reopening, he expects a 20% decrease as children will be able to access free school meals again. He said that those families with between three and five children are really struggling.

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A spokesperson of another Birmingham food bank, run by faith-based organisation As-Suffa, said there’s been an increase of people coming in in the last six months. “There are new people coming in every week,” said Zain.

They run a summer food banks, where you can walk-in once a week, and they also do deliveries. He said that more that more people are becoming aware of it and families as well as single mothers are taking up the service. They also provide hot meals as part of their Homeless Project from Wednesday – Sunday from 6:45-7:45pm at Arch 22, Lionel Street. They serve the meals during dinner time and it is usually very busy, added Zain.

Newly elected Prime MinisterLiz Truss certainly has a huge task ahead of her to help those struggling with the rising costs.

“I will deliver on the energy crisis, dealing with people’s energy bills but also dealing with the long term issues we have on energy supply,” she said today (5 September), according to BBC.

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