Shock over increase in under-18s being referred to Falkirk Foodbank

Food banks provide vital food parcels for those in need ' and growing numbers of young people are using the service provided by the charity
Food banks provide vital food parcels for those in need ' and growing numbers of young people are using the service provided by the charity

A shock increase in the number of 18-year-olds and under being referred to Falkirk Foodbank has been labelled “frightening”.

Latest figures show that in the first year it was open in 2012 just under 1900 desperate young people turned to it for help - but that rocketed to over 22,000 last year.

Robert Naylor, Falkirk Council’s director of children’s services admitted the rise is “staggering”.

In the week the Trussel Trust said food bank use across the country has increased to record levels, the manager of Falkirk Foodbank has confirmed the number of individuals and families referred to them last year rose by 20 per cent on the previous 12 months.

Jim Couper, boss of the operation based in Tamfourhill said: “We are now distributing between five and six tonnes of food a month to help people facing food poverty.”

When Falkirk Council’s scrutiny committee met to consider a report on services to children and young people the crisis situation was revealed.

Mr Naylor said: “At April 2013 there was a 26 per cent decrease in the number of children in households in Scotland in receipt of work tax credits compared with April 2012.

“This will have broadened vulnerability to the stresses that poverty brings to family life beyond the more traditional deprived areas and groups.

“In Falkirk, the Scottish Welfare Fund spending increased from £6144 in April 2013 to £109,991 in March 2014.

“Referrals to Falkirk food banks have increased year on year since their inception in 2011. In 2011-12, 1861 young people aged 18 and under used the food bank. This rose to 4572 in 2012-13 and a staggering 22,387 in 2013-14.

“We are operating in an environment where there are more in need and more in need longer.”

Councillor John McLuckie said: “The number of young people attending food banks is frightening.”

Mr Couper said: “We used to make up food parcels to provide individuals and families with sufficient food for three meals for three days. Now we have increased that to six days so people do not have to come back so often.

“We’ve always been aware of the need to help teenagers because of their particular circumstances, but we are here to support everyone as best we can. We cover the entire district and work hard to make sure people do not go hungry.”