The St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP) whose members and staff witness the deprivation and suffering caused by poverty every day in the course of their work, say the government’s £326 cost of living payments announced this week, are inadequate to help the millions struggling to feed their families.
Amid the spiraling cost of food and annual fuel bills, the SVP’s St Vincent’s centres are seeing dramatically increased demand for their services.
Last month alone, St Vincent’s Southend provided 1354 hot meals from its Kindness Kitchen, and their crisis food bank supports 193 families with food, toiletries, household essentials as well as nappies and baby food. St Vincent’s Newcastle is seeing numbers at its weekly Vinnie’s lunch club at record levels, and St Vincent’s Ely Bridge in Cardiff is currently providing essential food bags for up to 58 families a week. We have seen a similar increase in the use of food banks and poverty alleviation services at St Vincent’s centres across the country.
Rapidly rising food poverty levels are just one of the factors currently hitting millions of people. Insecure work, unaffordable childcare costs and the appalling rise in in-work poverty are also adding to financial woes.Without structured help and a holistic approach to prevent people from falling into the spiral of debt, a significant number of people will struggle to feed their families and heat their homes this winter.
SVP Chief Executive Elizabeth Palmer says: “It’s our mission to help anyone experiencing poverty in any form, but it’s also our mission to speak out against injustice and inequality. The current cost of living crisis is exposing the divide between those who can afford to put food on the table and keep their families warm, and those who cannot.
“People should not be excluded from the basics of life - food, fuel, warmth. We need a long-term, holistic approach to tackle the rising cost of living, but until that happens, the SVP will continue to support people in the way we have for nearly 200 years.”