More than 1,000 food parcels handed out in Mansfield during Covid first wave

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Hundreds of emergency parcels were handed out at food banks in Mansfield every week during the first six months of the coronavirus pandemic, figures reveal.

The Trussell Trust said a record 1.2 million parcels were given to people struggling to afford essentials nationally between April and September, and warned the figures are ‘the tip of the iceberg’.

In Mansfield, the charity handed out 1,319 emergency food parcels over the period – the equivalent of 51 every week.

Of these, 511 were for children.

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More than 1,000 food parcels were handed out in Mansfield during the first wave of Covid-19More than 1,000 food parcels were handed out in Mansfield during the first wave of Covid-19
More than 1,000 food parcels were handed out in Mansfield during the first wave of Covid-19

But overall, the charity dished out 129 fewer parcels in the area than it did during the same six-month period last year.

However, the figures do not include the number of people helped by community organisations, independent food banks and local authorities.

It added that ‘there has been no evidence of economic hardship decreasing in local areas’, meaning a reduction in use across its food banks does not indicate a drop in demand.

Emma Revie, the charity's chief executive, said volunteers have been working hard to support people in need, but added it is ‘not right that any of us are forced to use a charity for food, at any time of year’.

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She added: "In the last few weeks we’ve seen incredible compassion and concern for people facing hunger following Marcus Rashford’s brilliant campaigning and it's hugely welcome to see the Government build on steps already taken by providing significant new funding for local councils in England.

“This vital local support must work in co-ordination with a national welfare system that is strong enough to act as a lifeline to anyone struggling to afford the essentials."

“This pandemic has shown the unexpected can hit us suddenly, with devastating consequences for people’s lives, but it’s also shown we can make huge changes to the way we live and look after each other."

Across the UK, food bank demand in the six months to September increased by 47 per cent compared to the same period last year.

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More than a third of food parcels went to children during this period – 470,000 in total.

The charity voiced concern that food banks in its network may see high levels of need over the winter and beyond, particularly as redundancies increase.

The top three reasons for someone being referred to a food bank in the Trussell Trust’s network over the period were low income, benefit delays and sickness or ill health.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “We are committed to making sure that the most vulnerable in our society are protected and we’ve put in place a strong package of support to ensure children and their families do not go hungry during this pandemic.

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“Our additional £400 million of funding includes £170 million to help families stay warm and well-fed this winter, a further £16 million to provide immediate support to frontline food aid charities, and £220 million holiday activities and food programme."