It’s hard to believe we’re already past the halfway point of 2023, North Belfast Foodbank continues its mission of providing emergency food assistance and support to local people in crisis. It’s time to look back at the trends and challenges of the last six months but also the reasons for hope.
We had hoped to see a decline in demand post pandemic but the reality is that food insecurity remains high in our community with record numbers of people reaching out for support.
Between January and June 2023 we provided emergency food parcels to feed 1,353 adults and children. That’s a 73% increase compared to the same period last year.
Rising costs of living are the primary driver. The soaring costs of housing, fuel, food and other basics means an ever-widening gap between income and expenses for many households.
Our clients include people on low incomes, benefits or zero hour contracts who struggle to make ends meet. We continue to see a troubling number of people affected by the social welfare system, including delays, changes and sanctions. Mental and physical health issues also frequently contribute to hardship.
Behind each food parcel is a real story of someone struggling in our community. Over half of the people we help are families with children and this is increasing. Many local families are facing impossible choices between heating their homes, feeding their children, or covering basic expenses.
We are committed to being there for our community during these difficult economic times.
As the need for our services has remained high, so too has our determination and efforts to meet it. None of our vital work would be achievable without the credible efforts of our volunteers. Their passion, empathy and hard work which they continue to demonstrate is humbling and inspirational. As well as food we provide a listening ear and onward referrals to other agencies that can help address underlying issues.
Our team of over 60 volunteers have given more than 1,500 hours of their time running collections, sorting donations, packing parcels, engaging with referral agencies, admin work, and much more.
We want to give a heartfelt thank you to new and longtime volunteers. You show, through your selfless actions, that we are a community who cares for one another.
We’ve also been overwhelmed by the support of all our generous donors. From local businesses, schools, churches, and community groups who have organised fundraisers and donation drives to everyone who continues to donate food at our collection points in Tesco Yorkgate, Tesco Antrim Road and ASDA Shore Road.
So far in the six months to June 2023 we have received over 6,000kg of food, broadly similar to the same period last year. However with the increase in demand we have had to purchase food to make up for the shortfall in fulfilling our comprehensive food parcels by buying over 3,000kg of food. In the same period of 2022 we purchased around 50kg of food.
The coming months will likely continue to be challenging for many in North Belfast. The immense challenges facing many in our community show no signs of abating anytime soon.
But there are reasons to be hopeful and we are confident that together, we can provide vital support and alleviate suffering for those most vulnerable in our community. Our community partnerships continue to deepen and expand, increasing our ability to reach and care for more people.
We will continue to help all who need it by maintaining and growing our volunteer team, donations and community partnerships. We will be launching new advocacy campaigns with our network partners to increase awareness and support. And we are evaluating operations to increase efficiency and impact with our limited resources.
With the incredible support of our local community we simply couldn’t do this vital work. This support takes many forms and every gesture counts from the generosity of local people, businesses, churchs and community groups who donate food, funds, time or simply sharing our social media posts.
Together we can continue working tirelessly to provide emergency food aid, compassion to our community, and a future where no one needs to go hungry.
Thank you for supporting us and the community we serve.
If you would like to get involved as a volunteer, donor, or partner please reach out to us at [email protected]