‘People choosing between heating and eating’ as use of Aberdeen foodbanks rises

Kyle McCormick at a Trussell Trust
Kyle McCormick at a Trussell Trust

The increasing number of people turning to Aberdeen foodbanks has been labelled as “crazy” by one man who has seen the issue from both sides.

A number of organisations and charities in the city operate foodbanks and offer opportunities to pick up free food for those who need it.

Aberdeen City Council has now compiled a list of different places in the city aiming to reduce poverty and its effects.

There are several charities which offer foodbank services in the city, such as Instant Neighbour, Community Food Initiatives North East (CFINE) and the Trussell Trust.

Dot Goldie and Dougie McDonagh

Evan Adamson, community connector at Instant Neighbour, which runs a foodbank on St Machar Drive, said: “There’s been a massive rise in foodbank users for the past two years. There’s more and more people coming in and a lot of it is to do with Universal Credit and the five-week wait.

“We’re getting new people every single day, it’s crazy.

“All the other foodbanks are the same. We probably see around 500 a month and this month has been particularly busy.

“We only register people who are over 16, so we think the total amount of people who are using the foodbank is actually higher than our figures. We’re in the process of looking into that.

“It’s shocking, it’s quite scary. A lot of people are choosing between having heating and their food. It’s an increasing trend we are seeing.”

Evan runs the foodbank and knows first hand how difficult it can be after he was left homeless in 2017.

He said: “One of the big things that we battle in this country is the sense that the welfare system is a wage – it is not. We’re trying to help people plan, it’s a difficult thing.

“We get people who were made redundant from oil jobs. They go from a four-figure wage to nothing, it’s a massive change.

“A lot of churches and community centres will offer a free meal.

“There’s no reason for people to be going hungry, but they are just a band aid.

“Ideally, they wouldn’t be needed.”

Other foodbanks in the city include Somebody Cares on Greenwell Road, East Tullos, and CFINE on Poynernook Road.

Non-perishable parcels are also offered by Aberdeen Cyrenians on Summer Street, RCCG Jesus House Torry on Victoria Road and Social Bite on Union Street, which distributes leftover stock between 3.15pm and 3.30pm.

The OAK Cafe at St Mark’s Church on Rosemount Viaduct offers a meal for a small donation, Fountain of Love on Palmerston Road offers a free lunch and City Church Aberdeen at Gilcomston Park has a food and chat session in the evening.

Other parties which contribute to meals for homeless or low-income families include St Vincent de Paul Society at St Mary’s Cathedral on Huntly Street, Street Friends outside Marks and Spencer, Bethany Toastie Club on a Wednesday at Kings Community Church on Urquhart Road and the Salvation Army at Aberdeen Citadel.

Crown Terrace Baptist Church also offers a Quay Toastie Club on Friday nights, providing a free hot meal between 5 and 6pm on a Sunday.

DWP office in London

A DWP spokeswoman said: “The reasons for food poverty are complex, and it would be wrong to link a rise to any one cause.

“Latest figures show 96% of Universal Credit claimants are paid in full and on time.

“People can claim up to 100% advance payments from day one and budgeting support is also available.

“The UK government continues to spend around £90 billion a year to support low-income families, including cold weather payments, so the most vulnerable people get support when they need it most.”