AS the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite, figures out today show an alarming increase in the number of people using Wirral Foodbank.

Data from the charity reveals 15, 451 emergency food parcels were provided to people facing hardship across the borough in the last year – with 5,346 of these going to children.

Wirral Foodbank has seen an 8% increase in the number of emergency food parcels distributed compared to last year, as more and more people struggle to afford essentials such as food.

Its general manager Richard Roberts told the Globe: "The 8% belies the challenges faced by many in our community.

"When we compare the same period with 2021/22, there has been a 68% increase in demand. People are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.

"We cannot forget that behind the figures are individuals, families, and children.

"We have seen an increase in families and pensioners using our foodbank in the last twelve months.

Wirral Globe: Richard Roberts, general manager of Wirral FoodbankRichard Roberts, general manager of Wirral Foodbank (Image: Craig Manning / Newsquest)"The generous support of the Wirral community is vital in ensuring that we can be there for anyone who turns to us for help, but the increase in demand has not kept pace with the level of donations.

"Emergency food is not the solution to poverty, it’s only in addressing the underlying reason can we start to make a difference.

"Individuals who use our service can be referred to Foodbank Plus, a benefit and advice service commissioned by Wirral Foodbank and delivered by Citizens Advice Wirral.

"Thank you to all who donate food and monies and to our wonderful volunteers, who give of their time so generously." 

Wirral Globe: Inside Wirral FoodbankInside Wirral Foodbank (Image: Craig Manning / Newsquest)A typical emergency food parcel consists of items such as cereal, tinned fruit and vegetables, canned meat and fish, tea, coffee, biscuits, UHT milk, pasta, rice, toiletries and much more, but Wirral Foodbank is having to purchase more and more stock as donations are no longer meeting local need.

The charity is said to be particularly short of tinned fruit, tinned vegetables, and tinned meat.

All donations are gratefully received and can be dropped off at Wirral Foodbank and collection points across Wirral, details available from the website:

Wirral Foodbank is part of the Trussell Trust’s network, which reports record levels of need in the last 12 months with more than 3.1 million emergency food parcels provided to people facing hardship between April 2023 and March 2024. More than 1.1 million of these parcels were provided for children.

The Trussell Trust is calling for urgent reform of the social security system as it is currently failing in its most basic duty – to protect people from going without essentials we all need in life.

Alongside many other organisations, the anti-poverty charity is urging the UK Government to introduce an ‘Essentials Guarantee’ into Universal Credit to ensure everyone has a protected minimum amount of support to afford the essentials.

Speaking about the rising need for emergency food, Emma Revie, chief executive at the Trussell Trust, said: "It's 2024 and we’re facing historically high levels of food bank need. As a society, we cannot allow this to continue.

"We must not let food banks become the new norm. As we approach the next UK General Election, we urgently need all political leaders to set out how they will build a future where no one needs a food bank to survive.

"Voters want to see a change and we need cross-government action at all levels to deliver it.

"We know what's pushing people to food banks, so we know what needs to change.

"A supportive social security system is the bedrock on which we end hunger for good, and we also need to ensure everyone can get the right support at the right time.

"People should be supported in a way that reflects the reality of their lives, especially if they’re facing the higher costs and barriers that impact certain groups such as parents, carers, disabled people. Everyone should have the security we all need to access opportunities and have hope for the future.

"Food banks are not the answer.

"They will be there to support people as long as they are needed, but by taking bold action our political leaders can build a future where everyone has enough money to afford the life’s essentials.

"The time to act is now."