MK Businesses set to ramp up community support as the cost of living crisis takes hold

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Louisa Hobbs, Operations Manager at MK Food Bank, has called upon businesses across the city to replicate the outpouring of support witnessed during the pandemic and once again wrap their arms around the community, after she revealed that so far this year, 11,000 food parcels have been distributed - a third more than at this point in 2021, and, alarmingly more than the whole of 2019.

“Currently, we need £530 per day just to operate, but we anticipate that we will soon need around £100,000 a year extra to help the community through this crisis.

MKBLP members came together at Bletchley Park this week to hear the stark reality from Louisa. Pledging support by bringing food donations, all left to spread the word amongst their employees and the wider business community that long term support for the independent charity was desperately needed.

“While regular donations of money are of course welcomed, we are asking businesses to champion us well into the future. From payroll giving schemes and match funding for sponsored events, to volunteering by packing food parcels. Your employees and business reputation will thank you for it.”

The grim reality of the situation within Milton Keynes was laid bare by Louisa, who joined MK Food Bank in a baptism of fire in March 2020: “My entire first year was crisis management, however in October last year, universal credit cuts were made, and the cost of living crisis began in earnest.”

 

The ripple effects of this crisis is being felt across the city with up to 50 new people coming to the charity for help each week – including those working long hours who simply can’t make ends meet.

Over the last 18 months, MK Food Bank has supported more than 4,700 households – that’s 1 in 30 households, 1 in every class and more than 1 in every street. But the ripple effects of the cost of living crisis has really taken hold, and the charity is concerned that demand in June outstripped that of January – which is when greater support was traditionally needed. “We are worried about the winter months ahead; this crisis is not going to go away.”

Last week, MK Council revealed that 17,750 households could be facing financial hardships – that’s 1 in every 6: “People are telling us that they are cutting back by not paying for gas and boiling a kettle to wash their children every day. Many have also stopped using their washing machines, and prioritising feeding their children instead of paying their mortgage while trying to navigate the complicated benefits system while juggling full time jobs. This is the reality of what more and more people within our community are facing.”

And it isn’t just families, Louisa admits that a growing number of single men are needing support and they are, worryingly, slipping through the cracks. 

While demand for support has risen, donations have plummeted and the charity has been forced to purchase food items themselves, however Louisa remains optimistic: “The good news is, we live in Milton Keynes. We need to replicate the magic which happened during the pandemic.”

MK Food Bank offers two main services, providing emergency food parcels which is a temporary support for people in crisis and, more recently, Top-Up shops and surgery style support where people can purchase 10 store cupboard items for £2 and receive advice on anything from debt management to rising energy costs.

Next year they also plan to roll out their pop-up shop to neighbourhoods across the city.

For further information on how to get involved visit www.mkfoodbank.org.uk

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