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OPINION: General Election 2024 – together, we can end the need for foodbanks

Cambridge City Foodbank’s Hustings 26th June at 7pm

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As the need for food banks soars and the country gets ready for a General Election, we must all call on candidates of all parties to take action to tackle rising poverty. Food banks like ours in Cambridge cannot go on like this. Our future politicians must recognise the extent of the problem and pledge to build a future where no one needs a food bank to survive.

In 2023, Trussell Trust food banks across the UK distributed over 3.1 million emergency food parcels.

In Cambridge, one of the UK’s most unequal cities, we provided nearly 16,000 food parcels. Food banks across the country are facing an unprecedented and unmanageable need, and it simply cannot carry on.

Many people don’t realise that the need for emergency food is significantly higher now than it ever has been. In the last four years, we have seen an 80% increase in need, rising from 800 emergency food parcels provided in May 2020 to over 1,400 in May 2024.

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If nothing changes, we will soon be forced to turn away people who desperately need our help.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Cambridge City Foodbank, Trussell Trust, and other food banks across the UK know how to end the need for food banks. We are well aware of the circumstances in people’s lives that force them to resort to food banks.

Ultimately, too many people don’t have the money that they need to afford life’s essentials. Like you, I want to live in a city where everyone has the security of knowing they can afford to eat, wash, and have a warm home.

Kate McIntosh, Local Organiser, Cambridge City Foodbank

Kate McIntosh, Local Organiser, Cambridge City Foodbank

That’s why I am calling on all candidates to take the Trussell Trust pledge and commit to taking action to end the need for food banks.

At the core of the pledge is the Essentials Guarantee – the principle that our broken social security system should be reformed to ensure that it protects all of us from destitution.

Candidates and parties are reaching out to voters and making their pitches. This is the time for the majority of the public who support action to end the need for food banks to say loudly and clearly: “we want you to commit to building a future where no one needs a food bank to survive”.

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We are indebted to the people of Cambridge who donate to us, and our phenomenal volunteers. What we do is only possible because of the generous people who recognise that their contribution makes a difference.

Now, we call on candidates in Cambridge to commit to making that lasting difference for the people of Cambridge who rely on our support.

In the days and weeks in the lead up to 4 July, there will be opportunities to talk to and engage with candidates from across the political spectrum at hustings and public appearances, and they may even knock on your door.

If thousands, hundreds, or even a handful of us tell the candidates that their priority should be ending the need for food banks, we can put real pressure on them to take action if they make it to Parliament.

You can hear directly from those candidates asking for your votes at Cambridge City Foodbank’s Hustings on tackling the causes of poverty, on Wednesday 26th June at 7pm.

The hustings will take place at Church of the Good Shepherd in Arbury and will be held in partnership with Jimmy’s Cambridge, YMCA Trinity Group, It Takes a City and Centre33. Registration is required so secure your place now: cambridgecity.foodbank.org.uk/hustings/

In the meantime, you can also email your candidates directly and ask them to take the Trussell Trust pledge. It will only take a few minutes to do so by going on the Trussell Trust website: action.trusselltrust.org/PPCPledge.

Life is tough for many people at the moment, especially those on the lowest incomes. Often, it can feel like the politicians we have elected to represent us don’t listen to us. But, if at any point they are listening, it is right now.

Change doesn’t happen accidentally. It happens when people like you and me decide that things cannot go on the way they are, and decide we have to do something about it.

Together, we can end the need for food banks.

 

Kate McIntosh is local organiser, Cambridge City Foodbank

 

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