Use of foodbanks hits record levels

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More people are having to use foodbanks than ever before in the Western Isles.

The latest statistics released by the Trussell Trust show that Islanders used local foodbanks 470 times in 2015/16 compared to 280 times in 2014/15, a steep rise of 67%.

In fact the Islands saw the third highest rise out of 27 Local Authority areas.

Across the the country there were 133,000 referrals to Scottish foodbanks a 13% increase in demand.

Scottish foodbanks provide three day supplies of food to people in crisis with the data showing that benefit delays remain the biggest primary reason for referral to foodbanks.

A survey of Scottish foodbanks anecdotally also indicated that insecure employment, low wages, delayed wages and problems accessing working benefits are also among the reasons working people need to use this service.

Ewan Gurr, Scotland Network Manager of The Trussell Trust, said: “The figures released highlight an alarming number of people hitting a crisis and being unable to buy food.

“The main increase has been to the numbers on low incomes, which is leaving people without enough to live on.

“In addition to that, almost half of referrals in Scotland are due to a benefit related difficulty.

“In Scotland, we have heard from people using foodbanks due to the heart-breaking reality of losing a job in the oil and steel industries, others feeling a sense of despair after delays to a Universal Credit payment and some who have experienced sanctions that have impacted on their physical and mental wellbeing.

“We encourage our policy makers to listen to those using foodbanks and learn from their experiences. This way we can ensure the right changes are prioritised to help reduce the hunger and poverty we see in foodbanks every day.”

Pictured are some of the items donated at a recent appeal by the local foodbank at Stornoway’s Tesco store.