The Trust’s funding will enable the anti-poverty charity, created by the Archbishop of Canterbury and with the Bishop of Gloucester among its trustees, to offer wraparound advice and casework services for people on low incomes who access low-cost food from its ‘citizens’ supermarkets’ in Coventry and Wirral.
These on-the-spot services, operating under the charity's 'Pathways from Poverty' programme, will address issues such as debt, benefits, and housing, which have left people struggling to afford food and other essentials. In doing so, they will minimise the risk of people descending into crisis and having to rely on food banks at a later stage.
The programme has to date helped 3,500 people accessing food banks across Bradford, Derbyshire, Leicester, and Wirral to resolve crises that have left them destitute. Among its successes has been an increase in people’s annual incomes by a collective total of £750,000, as well as the prevention of prolonged periods of hunger and hardship, and a reduction in the long-term need for food banks.
Moreover, the evidence produced by the programme enabled Feeding Britain to campaign successfully for a £265 million measure in the Government’s most recent Budget to support families on Universal Credit.
Under this latest leg of the programme, being funded by Benefact Trust, up to 2,400 people are expected to be helped over a two-year period. Crucially, the grant will enable Feeding Britain to intervene at an earlier stage to prevent the need for food banks before it arises. The findings of this work will be used to inform and influence community food provision across the country, with the objective of empowering an even greater number of churches to address the drivers of chronic poverty.
Andrew Bass, Grants Officer for Benefact Trust, said: ‘On a week that highlights the very real issue of poverty in the UK, we’re delighted that our funding can bring some positivity and hope by extending the reach of the Pathways from Poverty programme. This will help many more people on low-incomes to access free, high-quality advice which could change their lives for the better and support the wider aim of ending hunger and food poverty.’
Andrew Forsey, Feeding Britain’s National Director, added: ‘When the pandemic first struck our country, Benefact Trust moved swiftly to support Feeding Britain’s efforts to provide two million meals to tens of thousands of families. This latest act of generosity moves us onto a more preventative footing from which we can counter, at an earlier stage, some of the potent forces in people’s lives which put them at risk of destitution.’