FOOD banks across Bradford saw thousands more people come through the doors in the past 12 months compared to the year before, the Trussell Trust has revealed.

Latest figures from the charity show almost 9,000 more parcels were distributed in Bradford in the 2020/21 financial year, compared with the same period in 2019/20.

The Trussell Trust, which supports a network of more than one thousand food banks across the UK and campaigns to end the need for the food banks, found the more than half a million more food parcels were given out in the last 12 months compared to the previous year.

In Bradford, 21,699 parcels were distributed in the year 2020/21, including 9,051 given to children.

This is up from a total of 12,837 in 2019/20, with 5,191 given to children, showing the huge impact the Covid-19 pandemic, restrictions and lockdowns have had on people’s lives.

This rise even comes with the number of food banks associated with the Trussell Trust in Bradford falling from eight to seven over the past two years.

Thousands of people have lost their jobs due to the pandemic and the massive impact it has had on the economy, with the financial strain placed on people by Covid-19 leading to many having to turn to food banks.

Josie Barlow runs Bradford Central Food Bank and said they have helped thousands more people this year than the last.

She said: “We’ve seen a really big increase this year in the number of people coming to us.

“We’d fed 6,582 people the previous year, and then by March we’d help about 15,000.

“We have seen different types of people coming to us for help, such as people who have been made redundant and had never needed to come before, but are struggling to adapt to going from a steady wage to relying on Universal Credit.

“We’ve also had to help a lot of families who usually get free school meals and those who rely on breakfast and after school clubs and needed help when they lost those in lockdown.

“And then there has been working people who just can’t make ends meet, and those on furlough who lost 20 per cent of their income, which is a big drop when you have a family or are on low income.”

Ms Barlow said changes need to be made to the Universal Credit system to reduce the number of people turning to food banks.

“The five or six wait in getting the first payment, it’s a long time to go without any money and sets people up to fail before they’ve even started,” she added.

“The £20 uplift to Universal Credit also needs to stay, it was extended in the Budget but only to September, if the Government takes it away people won’t be able to cope.”

Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, said: “No one should face the indignity of needing emergency food.

“Yet our network of food banks has given out record numbers of food parcels as more and more people struggle without enough money for the essentials.

“This is not right but we know we can build a better future. This pandemic has shown the unexpected can hit suddenly, but we know when we push for change, united by our desire for justice and compassion, the government has to listen and act.”

Ms Revie also called on all candidates in the council and mayoral elections next week to commit to working to end the need for food banks.

Across Great Britain, 2.46 million parcels were handed out in 2020/21, up a third from 1.88m in 2019/20. Children received 949,054 parcels last year, up from 696,793 in 2019/20.

The figure is also a 128 per cent rise on the number of people using food banks five years ago.

This major rise comes as the number of distribution centres linked to the charity has fallen by 27 to 1,435.

Elsewhere in West Yorkshire, the number of parcels handed out in Leeds fell by more than 10,000 from 2019/20 to 2020/21 to 21,188, however the number of food banks recorded on the list dropped by eight to 19.

In Wakefield, the number of parcels handed out also fell, by 1,674 to 3,950; this was despite the number of foodbanks increased from three to ten.

No figures are included on the list from Kirklees or Calderdale.

Sabine Goodwin, coordinator of the Independent Food Aid Network, added: “Independent food banks are also continuing to see relentless need for help although combined Trussell Trust and independent food bank figures represent a fraction of the UK’s food insecurity picture.

“Now more than ever, our social security system needs to be reset, local authority support schemes involving crisis grants prioritised and adequate wages and secure work ensured.

“It’s the Government’s responsibility to stop hunger from happening in the first place so that everyone is able to afford to buy food and other essentials.”