Campaigners launch new bid to tackle increase in food poverty in Northamptonshire

Rachel McGrath, grants director and deputy CEO Northamptonshire Community Foundation

Rachel McGrath, grants director and deputy CEO Northamptonshire Community Foundation

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A new drive to tackle food poverty in Northamptonshire is being launched by the county's Community Foundation.

Recent statistics revealed one in 25 people living in England cannot afford to feed themselves, with low-income families with children and pensioners living alone most at risk.

In Northamptonshire, food poverty is on the rise with an increasing number of people unable to afford to feed themselves or their families, according to the foundation. The Northamptonshire Food Poverty Network and the Hub Partnership are on a mission to tackle food poverty in the county.

Rachel McGrath, grants director and deputy CEO Northamptonshire Community Foundation, said: “Poverty is on the rise in Northamptonshire and although the UK is the seventh richest country in the world many people are struggling to afford food. We work with a range of support agencies to help provide a co-ordinated response to tackling food poverty and counter the impact of austerity measures.

"We will also take part in a national campaign to ‘End Hunger UK’ which includes organisations such as Oxfam, Fareshare and the Child Poverty Action Group.”

Northamptonshire Food Poverty Network (NFPN) consists of food banks and related agencies from across Northamptonshire. It was kick started and facilitated by Northamptonshire Community Foundation as part of its community leadership role and has been monitoring the ongoing and rising demand in food poverty for local communities.

Paul Adams, the manager at the Daylight Centre explains how food poverty has had a major impact in Wellingborough.

"This year has seen a dramatic increase in the number of people accessing the Wellingborough and district Foodbank. This has put extra strain on resources and certain key items were in very short supply.

"The benefit of being part of the Food Poverty Network is being able to access support from a wide range of sources and also the creation of a greater awareness with regards to food and fuel poverty," he said.

The Hub Partnership which includes NFPN members is looking to tackle poverty for people based in Northampton. People facing a crisis as a result of extreme circumstances are being supported by the Big Lottery funded initiative lead by Re:store Northampton in partnership with Northamptonshire Community Foundation, Central and East Northamptonshire, Citizen Advice Bureau and Springs Family Centre.

The partnership will tackle poverty on our doorsteps by expanding current services and developing new services to support local people.

Martin Lord, manager of Central and East Northamptonshire Citizens Advice, said: “It’s distressing to see that now, in 2016, the numbers of people approaching us can’t afford to eat properly is on the increase.

"The causes are well documented: welfare reform, problems with the administration of social security benefits, and uncertain working hours. We know this, not as a consequence of academic research, but because we try always to get behind the immediate problem and address the root causes.

"All of us involved in the Hub Partnership want to help with the immediate need but also help people move forwards, giving them the practical skills and knowledge to better deal with crises in the future," Mr Lord added.