Criticism against foodbanks inspires over £50k in donations
Following an article in the Mail on Sunday this week that challenged the work of foodbanks and figures about the number of users, people have responded by donating thousands of pounds to the Trussell Trust.
Recent figures released by the foodbank charity claimed that over 900,000 people received emergency food packages in 2014, pointing to a dramatic rise in the number of people experiencing food poverty in the UK.
"In the last year we've seen things get worse, rather than better, for many people on low-incomes," says Trussell Trust Chairman Chris Mould.
"It's been extremely tough for a lot of people, with parents not eating properly in order to feed their children and more people than ever experiencing seemingly unfair and harsh benefits sanctions."
In a harshly critical article, however, Mail on Sunday reporters Simon Murphy and Sanchez Manning suggest that foodbanks are experiencing an increase in users due to people "taking advantage" of the system, rather than out of genuine need.
In an attempt to prove this point, a third Mail on Sunday reporter posed undercover as an unemployed father of two, visiting Nottingham's Citizens Advice Bureau and claiming he could not afford to feed his family.
After a series of questions about Jobseekers Allowance and dietary requirements he was given a voucher for a foodbank run from a local church, where he received three days worth of essential food items.
Murphy and Manning also found that some needy people were receiving more than their three-parcel limit and claimed this was evidence of high levels of abuse within the system.
They quote Conservative MP Brian Binley as saying he is "very suspicious" of the way that foodbanks allow fraudsters to receive emergency food unnecessarily, claiming recently that: "There are...a lot of dishonest people who will cadge their way into situations.
"Foodbanks are run by very kind people. They do not understand that there are some people who will take advantage."
There are now over 400 foodbanks nationwide, but the article does not appear to have diminished people's support.
Since Sunday, the Trussell Trust's Just Giving Page has received over £50,000 worth of donations, rising from around £2,000 to £57,619 at the time of publishing. Many have cited the Mail on Sunday as their impetus for donating.
The Trussell trust tweeted that it was "blown away" by the response.
"To each one of you amazing people who have donated so far: THANK YOU! We are moved, touched and humbled by incredible public kindness :)" the charity shared on Twitter yesterday.
Many more have taken to the web to condemn the Mail's report; "Daily Mail, I've got to ask. Why does my two year old get it better than you do?" asks one mum in an open letter to the paper. Her son chose to donate some of his pocket money to the cause.
"I'm not entirely sure what you felt you achieved with your undercover reporter...The Citizen's Advice Bureau is an incredible organisation, underfunded and understaffed, and working their butts off for very little reward. So what did you prove? That your reporter can lie convincingly? That charities are charitable? That people would far, far rather take the risk of someone abusing the system than allow someone in need to go hungry?"
The Trussell Trust responded to the report with an official statement that says it will investigate the claims, adding that "there will always be those who try to abuse a system".
"The Trussell Trust feels that these undercover methods, used by Daily Mail journalists, to enter the premises of our voluntarily run foodbanks is an unacceptable attempt to tarnish not only the name of the Trussell Trust, but also the valuable efforts of the 30,000 volunteers who selflessly give up their time to provide a valuable service to people in real need.
"Foodbank use is meeting a real and growing need," the statement concludes.