Local councillors take a stand against food povert

In a bid to help tackle food poverty in one of Sheffield’s most deprived communities, Arbourthorne and Norfolk Park councillors have awarded £1000 to support the S2 Food Bank, ahead of the launch of the government’s Universal Credit programme in the city.

Labour councillors have repeatedly stated their concerns that the launch of Universal Credit could plunge thousands of people into poverty, leaving many families unable to pay rent or put dinner on their table. The government’s flagship reform of the benefits system rolls together six so-called ‘legacy’ benefits, including unemployment benefit, tax credits and housing benefits but critics, including End Hunger UK, say that excessive payment delays, administrative errors and a lack of support for claimants is driving up usage of food banks.

Local Labour Councillors Ben Miskell, Jack Scott and Julie Dore, who represent one of the cities’ most deprived communities, took a stand by boosting funding for their local food bank. The £1000 of funding comes directly from the ‘ward pot’, which is fund used by local councillors to support important causes in the community. The Council’s ruling Labour Party ensures that that wards with the greatest need are given the greatest financial support to their ‘ward pot’.

The S2 Food Bank, which is a network of community organisations who have come together to provide food parcels for those in need who live in the Sheffield S2 area, is a lifeline for many families. Last year the Food Bank distributed 46 tons of food and helped feed over 6,000 clients from its two centres on Cary Road and Duke Street.

Councillor Ben Miskell said:

“We’re very worried about how the roll out of Universal Credit in Sheffield is likely to impact the most vulnerable in our community. Hearing the stories from areas where the rollout has happened already are heart-breaking, with the Trussell Trust Food Bank Network reporting a 52% rise in demand for food aid. That’s why we’ve prioritised supporting the S2 Food Bank who continue to do amazing work across Norfolk Park and Arbourthorne”.

“With the summer holidays coming up, we know that food poverty means that many youngsters will drop in weight without the benefit of free school meals. The work that the S2 Food Bank do is vital in our community’.

Sue Rose (known as Rosie) from the S2 Food Bank said:

“We are an organisation that relies on donations from the community and this funding from the ward pot will really make a difference to our clients. The S2 Food Bank serves some of the most deprived communities in our city and our aim is to end food poverty”.