Foodbank figures on the rise in Islands

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Foodbanks remain a vital source of support for people and act as a turning point for many.

A survey carried out with 100 men and women who accessed Trussell Trust foodbanks in Scotland indicated that 96 per cent felt better able to face their situation because of the support of the foodbank.

In addition, over half of respondents (55 per cent) felt that they had a better understanding of how to access further support because volunteers had signposted them to local statutory and voluntary organisations with the relevant expertise to tackle the underlying cause of their crisis.

In Eilean Siar in 2016/17 there were 556 referrals, in the previous year there were 470 referrals, which represents a 18% increase.

In November 2016, The Trussell Trust made three recommendations to the Scottish Government, based on concerns raised by those working in foodbanks.

Following these recommendations, The Trussell Trust met with Ministers of the three relevant portfolios to discuss the issues raised in more detail.

Currently, The Trussell Trust is gathering empirical evidence of the demand for feminine hygiene products within foodbanks and will feed back this research to the Scottish Government towards the end of 2017.

The charity’s new report, Early Warnings: Universal Credit and Foodbanks, highlights that although the rollout of the new Universal Credit system for administering benefits has been piecemeal so far.

Foodbanks in areas of partial or full rollout are reporting significant problems with its impact.

Key findings reveal: Foodbanks in areas of full Universal Credit rollout have seen a 16.85% average increase in referrals more than double the national average of 6.64%.

The effect of a six week waiting period for a first Universal Credit payment can lead to foodbank referrals, debt, mental health issues, rent arrears and eviction.

Navigating the online system can be difficult for people struggling with computers or unable to afford telephone helplines.

Foodbanks are working hard to stop people going hungry in areas of rollout, by providing food and support.

People in insecure or seasonal work are particularly affected.

A number of foodbanks in The Trussell Trust network contributed to the research.Over half of them confirmed that the roll out of Universal Credit was a major issue.