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Community / Steep rise in number of children receiving help from foodbank

Manager David Grieve warns overall figures are just the ‘tip of the iceberg’

Local foodbank co-ordinator David Grieve. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

THE NUMBER of children receiving support from the Shetland Foodbank has risen by more than 50 per cent over the last year.

Foodbank manager David Grieve said in the last six months children accounted for around one third of all clients.

He said during the coronavirus pandemic Shetland Foodbank has seen a “dramatic rise” in the number of children and families it has supported.

Figures from the Trussell Trust, the national organisation which oversees foodbanks across the country, show that between April and September 248 emergency food parcels were distributed to children in Shetland.

In the same period last year 153 were given to children.

Overall between April and September 786 parcels were distributed in Shetland – an increase from 707 the previous year.

The number of parcels given out in Shetland is greater than in Orkney and the Western Isles.

Grieve said during the pandemic “many people here in Shetland, and across the country, have been forced to turn to foodbanks for the first time”.

“The charity [Trussell Trust] warns these figures are the tip of the iceberg, as many people will have been helped by other community groups,” he said.

“This has certainly been the case in Shetland. Here, support to those facing a financial crisis has been provided by many different groups throughout the isles from the SIC and community councils to churches and even schools.”

Grieve said the foodbank has played a “key part in this support role and it has been able to do this because of the kind and very generous support from all across our community”.

“Food and cash donations come to Shetland Foodbank regularly throughout the year however the national food collection at Tesco is the single biggest source of donations each year.

“This collection happens in Tesco stores throughout the country this week between 19th and 21st November. Shetland Foodbank looks forward to the collection and hopes for the usual amazing support of shoppers.”

The topic of inequality and child poverty, meanwhile, was given a detailed airing at a meeting of Shetland Islands Council’s education and families committee on Monday.