Harrogate Food Bank' in 'scary' warning over cost of living crisis

The manager of Harrogate District Foodbank has warned she is ‘scared’ the cost of living crisis is leading not only to an immediate growth in poverty but to longer term problems including rising personal debt and mental health issues.

By Graham Chalmers
Thursday, 12th May 2022, 10:41 am
Updated Thursday, 12th May 2022, 10:45 am

Manager Dawn Cussons raised her concerns after new figures revealed demand for food banks in our area had increased by 23% in the last year.

“We’re seeing more and more demand for our services in Harrogate and Knaresborough,” she said. “I’ve noticed a difference in people’s behaviour.

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A volunteer at the Harrogate Food Bank at Mowbray Community Church in Harrogate carrying some bags filled with food.

“People that were struggling before are borrowing money to pay bills and are getting into debt which stores up problems for the future.

“The knock-on effects in mental health problems is starting to show up.

“Where is this going to end? It is just so scary.”

The three locations for Harrogate District Foodbank include Life Destiny Church in Starbeck, Mowbray Community Church in Harrogate and Holy Trinity Church in Knaresborough.

These are all part of a nationwide network run by The Trussell Trust, which is an NGO and charity.

The aim of the latter is to work toward ending the need for food banks across the UK.

But pressures on struggling households, even in our relatively affluent district, before the start of this year’s surge in energy prices means the opposite is happening.

Dawn said: “People had already been in trouble before the surge in energy prices and rising inflation.

“The end of the Government £20-a-week Universal Credit uplift last October didn’t help. There is a huge shortfall between benefits and the amount needed to pay basic bills.”

The generosity of Harrogate people is meaning donations for foodbanks, which typically provide three days’ emergency food for people experiencing crisis, are proving resilient.

While keen to help anyone who comes through their door, such is the demand for foodbanks, the offer of support requires referrals.

But foodbanks in the Harrogate area are now also being approached for their non-food help.

Dawn added: “The problem is, if you are struggling to buy food it also means you are unlikely to be able to pay for other necessities.

“One woman came to us who couldn’t afford a mattress while another needed a coat and a pair of shoes for her three-year-old.”

Harrogate District Foodbank liaises closely with Citizens Advice Mid-North Yorkshire to offer energy vouchers through the Help Through Hardship scheme and Warm and Well.

Harrogate Foodbank opening times

Life Destiny Church, High Street, Starbeck, Thursdays, 10.30am-12.30pm.

Mowbray Community Church, Harrogate, Tuesdays and Fridays, 10.30am-12.30pm.

Holy Trinity Church, Knaresborough, Fridays, 10.30am-12.30pm.

More information can be found at: 07885 529864 or www. harrogatedistrict.foodbank.org.uk