MPs from all political parties are being urged to support and donate to the ‘Hope not Hunger’ pop-up food bank when it arrives at Parliament on Wednesday.
Trussell Trust is bracing itself for a surge in demand for food parcels over the festive period, as they prepare for the busiest month of the year and what could become the busiest ever.
The nationwide food bank provided 133,734 three day emergency food supplies in December 2015, which could be easily surpassed this year with the number of people in food and fuel poverty on the rise.
Other charities, churches and community-run groups will also be helping to feed hungry people this Christmas, meaning the true extent of food poverty in the UK is likely to be far greater than many fear.
Unite’s ‘Hope not Hunger’ Christmas appeal has already raised thousands of pounds in donations for Trussell Trust food banks, and now MPs are being urged to open their wallets and donate to help feed Britain’s hungry.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “No person should have to choose between heating and eating this Christmas but without the support of local food banks up and down the country many thousands will.
“It is shocking to think that in the world’s sixth richest nation, Trussell Trust food banks will feed over 130,000 people this Christmas. That’s more than double the number of people fed when we last teamed up with the charity in 2013.
“Three years ago we called on the government to face up to the growing crisis it had caused. Three more years of Tory austerity and things are worse. Fuel and food poverty is on the rise with the squeeze on wages and work insecurity forcing increasing numbers of working people to turn to food banks to feed their families.
“With food banks braced for their busiest month, MPs are urged to do their bit to raise awareness of UK hunger by popping along and donating to our ‘Hope not Hunger pop up food bank.
“Holiday food is good, but food banks need the basics that we take for granted like toilet rolls, toothpaste and toothbrushes, deodorant, shampoo, winter coats, gloves, scarves and Christmas presents for the kids.
“Unite members have shown time and again that they are very generous when it comes to remembering people in crisis. Now we need MPs from all political parties to speak out and put an end to UK hunger once and for all.”
Labour MP Tracy Brabin is expected to be present at the food bank, as will Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Debbie Abrahams, who has been campaigning in Parliament to reverse cuts to in-work benefits which Unite say are causing a surge in food bank users.
The call comes as a new report reveals the number of working people living in poverty has reached a record high, fuelled by the UK’s housing crisis and cuts to in-work benefits.
A report for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation by the New Policy Institute found that 3.8 million working households are living in poverty, more than double a decade ago.
More than 7 million working people are now living in poverty and make up 55% of all those living below the poverty line in the UK.
In total, more than 13 million people are living in poverty in the UK today, which equates to around 21% of the entire UK population.
Over 2 million children from working households are also living in poverty, the report says.