On Wednesday, 1 February, Islamic Relief UK will partner with local Leeds-based charity, Give a Gift to distribute food packs to vulnerable families in Bradford. The food packs will contain items such as oil, pasta, pasta sauce, sugar, potatoes, rice, fresh bread, biscuits, crisps, flour, tea and a £15 Aldi voucher so that people can purchase fresh produce.
The charities will be supporting families who are facing hardship because of the rising cost of living and increased pressures due to high energy bills. The drive is part of a wider initiative led by Islamic Relief UK aiming to deliver food packs throughout the winter months. The scheme currently involves 23 partners from across the country that are keen to help those most in need.
Rising costs mean rising demand
According to Statista, real household disposable income in the UK will fall by 4.3% in the 2022/23 financial year, which can largely be attributed to rising food and fuel costs. Newly released figures from the House of Commons Library show that consumer prices were 10.5% higher in December than the year before, with rising demand for goods and increasing energy costs driving inflation. From December 2021 to December 2022, domestic gas prices increased by 129% and domestic electricity prices by 65%.
With the cost-of-living crisis worsening and basic living costs rising rapidly, Give a Gift have seen an increase in families struggling. They are receiving new referrals daily from working families, single-parent families, asylum seekers and schools. Many people have been hit hard by the cost-of-living crisis, especially low-income families, those suffering from domestic abuse, people who are homeless and refugees.
More government intervention is needed
Islamic Relief UK will continue to support the most affected through food banks, mosques and other organisations but they are calling on the government to ensure people have adequate income to cover the essentials.
Rifhat Malik MBE, Director at Give a Gift said:
“We are seeing more and more clients each week and people who do not qualify for state benefits and work full time.
“Before the cost-of-living crisis, the income was sufficient for bills and food but now they are struggling to pay their bills which leaves them with very little money for food.
“We thought the pandemic was difficult but the current cost of living is unprecedented. Our client referrals have trebled from last year and we are having to limit the number of packs we can give to organisations such as schools and other charities as we have more people who are struggling.”
Tufail Hussain, Director of Islamic Relief UK said:
“Food banks are not a sustainable or dignified way to help people who are struggling to survive because they do not have a sufficient or reliable income. We will continue to support the most vulnerable through our programmes, but food banks should not exist in one of the wealthiest countries in the world.”
“The current cost of living crisis has revealed just how much the UK’s benefits system is failing to support those on the lowest incomes. Only long-term structural change will give people the best chance of escaping poverty and living with dignity.
“The UK government must do more to deal with the immediate impacts of the cost-of-living crisis, but also undertake a fundamental review of the UK’s social security system with a view to ensuring benefits provide people with an adequate income to cover their essential needs.”
You can find Islamic Relief UK and Give a Gift handing out food packs on Wednesday 1 February at the Infinity centre in Leeds, LS8 5JH.