Monday, 9 December 2013

This is the Trussell Trust Official response to wide spread concern about how the food banks are operating.

A response to inaccurate and misleading reports about The Trussell Trust

There are some factually inaccurate, misleading and damaging online blogs currently circulating about The Trussell Trust which, if believed, could have an adverse effect on our ability to provide emergency food to UK people in crisis. Thank you for coming to us to find out more about these issues, we hope the answers provided below help to dispel some of the rumours. If you have further questions we’re happy to answer them: molly.hodson@trusselltrust.org

Is the Trussell Trust funded by government? Is it linked to a political party?

As stated on our website, The Trussell Trust does not receive any government funding. The Trussell Trust is entirely a-political and always has been. The foodbank social franchise was developed and launched in 2004 under a Labour government but it is neither a labour initiative nor an initiative related to the Coalition government or its recent policy initiatives.
The Trussell Trust has sought from the start to provide emergency food to people in crisis who are facing hunger and to raise awareness of the reality of UK food poverty so that policy makers across all parties are aware of the depth of the problem and can create policies to tackle it. The Trussell Trust has made an undeniable and significant contribution to raising public and political awareness of food poverty in the UK.

Welfare reform

Trussell Trust foodbanks will not benefit from current welfare reforms or become part of the welfare state. Indeed, we are concerned that welfare reforms could lead to an increase in the number of people who will need to be referred to foodbanks and that this could place strain on foodbanks and their donors.
The Trussell Trust has advised our foodbanks against entering into contractual agreements with local authorities and do not think foodbanks should become part of state welfare provision. Trussell Trust foodbanks are there for those who slip through the welfare net in order to prevent a crisis turning into disaster, not a replacement for the welfare state. The Trussell Trust, and Chris Mould in particular, have repeatedly and publically highlighted our concerns that government welfare reforms are likely to negatively impact people in poverty and have urged politicians to speak to us to find out more about the reality of food poverty so that they can create policies to help the poorest.

Are rumours that The Trussell Trust was founded by Conservative councillor Noel Atkins true? Is The Trussell Trust affiliated to the Conservative party?

There are some misleading blogs circulating online that suggest that The Trussell Trust is in some way affiliated to the Conservative Party, which is completely untrue: The Trussell Trust is an a-political charity that receives no government funding.
A former trustee was a Conservative councillor but he was not a founding member (he was in post from 2007 – 2012) and his role as councillor was entirely separate to his role as trustee at The Trussell Trust. The Trussell Trust’s Executive Chairman, Chris Mould, is a member of the Labour Party but this does not mean that The Trussell Trust is affiliated to the Labour Party either. Trustees are appointed to govern charities and have an individual as well as collective responsibility to exercise proper independence in their discharge of those duties – i.e they cannot allow personal political or professional connections to guide them when carrying out duties as trustees.

Is The Trussell Trust controlled by the Shaftesbury Partnership?

Trussell Trust Executive Chairman Chris Mould splits his time between The Trussell Trust and the Shaftesbury Partnership (an a-political social enterprise). His role at the Shaftesbury Partnership is entirely separate to his role as Executive Chairman of The Trussell Trust. The Trussell Trust is not part of or affiliated to the Shaftesbury Partnership. Chris Mould became a partner in the Shaftesbury Partnership in 2010 many years after his involvement began in the Trussell Trust.

Does The Trussell Trust make a profit?

The Trussell Trust is a not-for-profit charity that does not profit from churches joining our network or from welfare reforms or the increased use people are making of foodbanks – quite the opposite! It is a charity supported by individual donors, independent grant making bodies and businesses as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility. We receive no government funding and The Trussell Trust’s finances have been stretched immensely by the pressure of responding to increasing need. We are incredibly grateful to the public who support us with food donations, volunteer time and funds.
The Trussell Trust does not make a profit from churches starting foodbanks with us. Organisations that decide to sign up to develop a Trussell Trust foodbank make a commitment to give a £1,500 contribution towards the cost of what they receive from the Trussell Trust.  Every church that sets up a foodbank receives over £5,000 in value from the Trussell Trust in the first year alone: this includes an operating manual, onsite training, a template website, an online data collection system which supports their operations, a helpline, PR support, marketing materials and a share in the benefits of nationally negotiated fundraising initiatives and corporate relationships. The value for money is exceptional.

Does The Trussell Trust pay large salaries?

No – The Trussell Trust believes it is inappropriate to pay large salaries when working with people in poverty. Our directors earn less than £40,000pa. We are committed to paying a living wage to all our staff.

Are Trussell Trust foodbanks dignified?

The Trussell Trust deliberately designed a foodbank model for the UK which has dignity at its heart: people do not queue up for food, they are greeted by volunteers, given a cup of tea and welcomed into a warm café style environment. To reduce stigma, clients are given ordinary shopping bags to take food home in. Many people tell us that the foodbank is the first place they've come to where they have been truly listened to and not treated as a number. Many people who have been helped by foodbanks are so touched that they come and volunteer themselves.
A foodbank in Scotland recently gave emergency food to a family who had been hit by two redundancies and a problem with benefits. The mother had to stop breastfeeding her baby because she was too malnourished. She was referred to the foodbank. She said:
“It was just such a relief to finally speak to someone who cared and genuinely wanted to help. The emotional support that we’ve received [at the foodbank] is almost as good as the food. When Aiden (her son) came home from school and saw all the food in the kitchen cupboards he couldn’t believe it. They’ve helped give us hope.”

Are food parcels nutritional? Why do foodbanks work with non-perishable food?

Trussell Trust foodbanks provide three days’ worth of nutritionally balanced non-perishable emergency food. The standardized food parcels have been designed by dieticians to ensure they are nutritionally balanced.  By working with non-perishable food we are able to make sure that a standardized list of items are included, ensuring that the boxes contain the components necessary to make breakfast, lunch and dinner for three days. This avoids the problem of providing a random selection of near-date fresh food items that would not enable a balanced diet.  The food is donated by the public through schools, churches and at supermarket collections. No items are beyond sell by date (the UK has strict food hygiene regulations which prohibit this). These parcels are intended to be a short term measure not a long term solution.
Furthermore, working with ambient and dried foods provides a less expensive way to enable local communities to establish sustainable foodbank projects quickly and effectively without encountering chill chain issues, enabling more people to receive help. It also means that care professionals who do not have easy access to a foodbank can hold food boxes to give to their clients as needs arise.
The Trussell Trust is currently piloting a scheme to run courses on eating healthily on a low budget to provide more people on low incomes with essential cookery and budgeting advice to help longer term - this will include tips on working with fresh seasonal produce.

Are Trussell Trust foodbanks different to other countries?

Trussell Trust foodbanks operate a very different model to foodbank models in the USA, Canada and parts of continental Europe. In particular, Trussell Trust foodbanks discourage reliance on a foodbank, which we do not think is sustainable. Trussell Trust foodbanks offer a time-limited crisis intervention based on a referral system with food vouchers signed off by front-line care professionals. Trussell Trust foodbanks seek to engage with frontline care professionals over longer term plans for the clients they refer and are structured to avoid long term dependency: no self-referral; no drop in service; time-limited support. Trussell Trust foodbank clients may redeem three foodbank vouchers in a row at which point the foodbank manager will contact the referral agent about putting together a support plan to help the client break out of poverty. Longer term support from the foodbank is available in exceptional circumstances as agreed between the foodbank manager and referral agency.
We provide signposting to other agencies and local services able to help resolve the underlying cause of the crisis and we actively partner with referral agencies to make sure that people do not become reliant on emergency food.
Wherever they can, Trussell Trust foodbanks also deliberately create warm, welcoming café style environments to protect dignity and help reduce stigma, which is different to many international models. We use non-perishable food to create nutritionally balanced, standardised food parcels, avoiding the problem of giving people random selections of short-dated surplus food.

If you have any further questions about The Trussell Trust and how we operate please contactmolly.hodson@trusselltrust.org
Thank you!
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Foodbank: how it works

Food is donated: supermarket collection
Food is sorted and stored
Frontline care professionals refer clients using a food voucher
Signposting client to agencies able to solve the longer-term problem
Rural foodbank delivery service available in selected foodbanks
Families in crisis receive food
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