Unite urges parliamentary debate on food banks

By Michael Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Poverty Malnutrition

The Daily Mirror is backing calls for a Parliamentary debate on the nation's growing reliance on food banks
The Daily Mirror is backing calls for a Parliamentary debate on the nation's growing reliance on food banks
Unite, the UK’s biggest union, has demanded a parliamentary debate into hunger, as the nation’s food banks prepare to feed 60,000 people this Christmas.

The union slammed the government for “turbocharging inequality in Britain”. ​The government had focused on the interests of bankers, over people forced to use food banks – leading to a threefold increase in their use over the past year.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “It is a disgrace that in the world’s seventh richest country, food banks will have to feed 60,000 people this Christmas and fed over 345,000 people, between April and September this year. 

“Cabinet ministers have been turning their back on our cost of living crisis. While hundreds of thousands of families go without food, they have been cozying up to bankers, who are set for another year of bumper bonuses.”

Increasing reliance on food banks

The campaign for a debate on the many Britons’ increasing reliance on food banks is being supported by a petition, proposed by Jack Monroe, writer and former food bank user. Other supporters include The Mirror​ and The Trussell Trust foodbank network.

Monroe wrote in her column for The Mirror​: “A lot of people don’t go, because of the shame and because – I’ll tell you from experience – it feels like begging. No matter how kind the volunteers, how discreet the carrier bags, you have to look someone in the face who knows you are desperate and not coping and that your life is falling apart.”

Unite has pledged to help the charity feed a record number of people over the holiday period. Thousands of pounds worth of donations have been received from Unite members across the country, it said.

McCluskey added: “We are proud that Unite members are coming together this year to raise money that will help feed kids in their communities. But we all know that this shouldn’t be the preserve of charity and goodwill. The government is failing in its most basic duty to its citizens and must address food poverty without delay.”

Unite is the biggest trade union in Britain and Ireland, with more than 1.4M members working across all sectors of the economy.

Including 130,000 children

Last year Trussell Trust Food banks fed 350,000 people nationwide – including 130,000 children.

The 350,000 fed by the Trussell Trust in the six months from April to September this year were all referred to food banks by doctors, nurses or other professionals. Everyone who was referred received a foodbox containing enough food for three days.

More information about the trust is available here​.

The Archbishop of Canterbury urged Christmas shoppers to give 10% of their Christmas spending money to food banks.

Britons are predicted to spend an average of £28.70 on each present over the holiday period – a rise of £1.70 on the sum spent last Christmas.

Meanwhile, UK food poverty should be regarded as a “public health emergency”,​ a group of health experts has warned. Poor nutrition could lead to widespread health problems, six leading public health figures highlighted in a letter to the British Medical Journal​.


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