Local housing association, Choice Housing has partnered with the Trussell Trust to provide food parcels to families in need across Northern Ireland.
With the significant rise in the cost of living, particularly the continued increase in gas and electricity prices, many are struggling to provide the basics of food and heat.
Recent research indicated that one in every four children in Northern Ireland are living in a family which is struggling to provide basic requirements of heat, food, clothing, and childcare. Under these pressures many families are at risk of getting into further debt and are heavily reliant on food banks to supplement their financial situation.
Carol Ervine, Choice Group Director of Tenant and Client Services said, “As an organisation we are committed to providing more than bricks and mortar and realise that whilst having a home is a human right, there are many who are living with the real threat of poverty and financial instability.
"With the cost of living continuing to rise, the cost of the weekly shop has become significantly higher, and many families are making the decision between heating or eating. Working with the Trussell Trust, we are able to provide much needed food parcels to families in need, with the knowledge that this will ease at least part of the burden."
The Trussell Trust support a UK network of food banks providing emergency food and support to people in poverty whilst campaigning for change to end the need for food banks in the UK. The Trust recently outlined that in the year 2020/21, 2.5m food bank parcels were given to people in crisis in the past year across the UK with close to 80,000 emergency food parcels distributed across Northern Ireland in the same period.
Jonny Currie, Northern Ireland Network Lead from the Trussell Trust said, “We welcome this partnership with Choice Housing providing vital support to our network of food banks in Northern Ireland.
"Food banks and their volunteers are extraordinary, and their response to need in their communities is inspiring. But that kind of response shouldn’t be needed.
"In the last year in Northern Ireland almost 79,000 emergency food parcels were provided by food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network – and more than 31,000 of these were for children. It’s not right that some of us cannot afford our own food. That’s why we are working towards a just, compassionate future, where no one should have to use a food bank to get by."
Choice also manage a Financial Inclusion programme, through which they are supporting tenants to improve their money management, ensuring they can maximise their income. In the last year this programme helped tenants access £1.76 million in financial gains, and specialised staff at Choice are continuing to help tenants with benefits, debt, and budgeting advice.