Are food banks a sign of the ‘big society’ coming together to help its vulnerable members? Or are they a failure of welfare and social protection systems to provide an adequate safety net for those who need it?
This episode discusses the role of food banks in the UK. We hear from Katie McCusker, who previously worked for a homelessness charity as a housing support worker, often referring people to the food bank for emergency support. We also hear from Joe Walker, project manager at The Whitehawk Foodbank in Brighton, which is run by the Trussell Trust. We also hear Colleen’s perspective, who has used food banks on various occasions in the past few years.
More than 2000 food banks are currently operational across the UK. Food banks are run by charities, churches or other independent providers and offer emergency food support to people in need. Their number has increased exponentially since the financial crisis in 2008, and many more people have had to call on food banks for support following the Covid-19 pandemic. Primarily run by volunteers, food banks provide testimony to widespread kindness and compassion within society. But their rapid rise also lays bare failures in the UK’s welfare system to provide adequate support to those in need.