2021 the busiest year ever for Glasgow’s food banks

Charities and support centres are providing meals, hot food, clothes, essential items and accommodation.

2021 the busiest year ever for Glasgow’s food banks iStock

Food banks in Glasgow have said that 2021 was the busiest year on record – and they are now running low on supplies.

Charities and support centres have been working around the clock to provide people in need with meals, hot food, clothes, essential items and accommodation.

Colin McInnes, who runs a soup kitchen from underneath the Heilanman’s Umbrella, said that Homeless Project Scotland is currently receiving eight calls per hour in Glasgow from people in need of help.

“Demand has got a lot higher this last year, particularly for our foodbank table,” he said.

“We went from having two tables set up at the soup kitchen to now having seven and we operate that three evenings per week.

“At the moment, we’re receiving around eight phone calls every hour from people at crisis point needing help with something. It could be clothing, accommodation, food, anything really.”

At the start of the year, the charity had 10,000 food tubs in storage for its soup kitchen which runs three nights per week to reflect mounting pressure – but is now down to its last 500.

He added: “That is a testament to the poverty levels in Glasgow at the moment.

“We go through around 500 to 600 tins of food every week. That doesn’t include fruit and vegetables, packets, juice or bread.

“This year, we also had to bring in dinner tokens due to the demand. We wanted to make sure that everybody in the queue walked away with a hot meal.

“We’ve noticed people requesting more toiletries than before, so that’s something we’re stocking up on.

“We’re preparing for this next wave of infections with Omicron.

“It has been a really challenging year for us and we have stretched our services beyond what we could comprehend at the start of 2021. There has been a lot of pressure on our service.

“All walks of life have been coming to us for help – people in jobs, out of jobs, pensioners, teenagers, children, refugees and so on.

“We are living in really hard times and people are struggling.

“People need more now than ever before and there are a lot of reasons because of that – I don’t think the cut to Universal Credit helped earlier this year, either.

“We noticed when the benefit was cut, our queues got longer and people were more agitated. You could feel the desperation.”

Glasgow Baby Foodbank helped more than 3000 families in 2021 with numbers “ever-increasing”.

The organisation helps to provide those struggling to make ends meet with formula, baby food, nappies, wipes and toiletries.

Tracy Pender, co-founder, said: “On a daily basis, we find that we have at least five new clients on our list.

“At the beginning of this year, we started to get an increase of families with newborn babies – we called them the covid babies.

“Demand for help has been a lot higher this year and pressure also just seems to be getting higher and higher.

“Numbers are ever-increasing. No family should feel as though they can’t provide for their children.

“Sometimes we all struggle and need support from time to time. We are here to ease that strain a wee bit.”

The Trussell Trust dispatched more than 14,000 emergency food parcels – containing three or seven days’ worth of supplies – to residents between April and September.

This was up from 13,359 during the same period in 2020, but below the 20,854 handed out in 2019.

Among the parcels, almost 6000 were handed to youngsters in the city compared to around 5,000 last year.

The charities reported services getting significantly busier after the £20 weekly uplift to Universal Credit was credit was reversed during the same time electricity and gas prices rose.

Pender said: “We noticed that with the cut to Universal Credit and with gas and electricity prices rising, more families were coming to us for support.

“During the same time, we noticed an increase in working families coming to us as well.

“Since then, it hasn’t got any quieter, more and more people are coming to us for help.”

By Sarah Ward and Ruth Suter

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