Get involved: Send pictures, video, news and views - text NEWS SHOPPER to 80360 or email us
Foodbank use up by a staggering 500% in Lewisham and Greenwich
Thousands of Lewisham and Greenwich people are relying on foodbanks to feed their families as shock new figures show a staggering 500 per cent increase in their use over the past year.
London Assembly Member Len Duvall has branded the figures, revealed by the Trussell Trust charity, "a scandal" and called on Boris Johnson to pay the facilities a visit.
According to the charity's statistics, visitors to its Greenwich foodbanks have increased from 776 to 5,025 in the past year, while the figure rose from 623 to 3,895 in Lewisham borough.
Alan Robinson runs the Greenwich foodbank and said it had recently expanded from Thamesmead to cover more of the borough, but this only partly explained the massive upsurge in vicitors.
Mr Robinson explained: "It all changed significantly in April 2013 when a number of welfare changes kicked in - things like the bedroom tax and the welfare cap.
"Week by week during the year we've been seeing more and more people."
Every client at the Trussell Trust banks is referred from other agencies, receiving an emergency supply of non-perishable food - much of it donated by local schools - to keep them going for three days.
While many have been hit by benefit changes, others have faced a change in their circumstances - from being a victim of domestic violence to falling sick.
And Mr Robinson said politicians should see for themselves what was happening, saying: "I actually wrote to Iain Duncan Smith on Twitter and invited him to visit us but he hasn't accepted yet."
"A national disgrace"
Over in New Cross, the We Care foodbank's users have rocketed from 28 when it first started two years ago to 1,000 now.
Ray Woolford, who runs the facility, said: "We Care are about to launch breakfast and lunch clubs over the holiday period to help families who are dependent on free school meals and are scared stiff as to how they will feed children during the holidays."
He said: "Our client numbers are rising by about 10 per cent every six months. Police tell me people would rather steal food than use a foo bank so we are finding steady increases, even though people do not come every week.
"The fastest growing group is pensioners who will feed the cat and have family around for tea on Sunday but are too ashamed to say they live in poverty and are too poor to buy food.
"We have people in their 90s using the foodbank - it's a national disgrace.
"We struggle every week to feed the numbers coming through our doors."
Mr Duvall said: "Food poverty in modern Britain is a scandal. It is horrifying that in London, one of the world’s richest cities, the number of people reliant on foodbanks has almost doubled in the past year."
He added: "The mayor has to take a lead in working with partner organisations to help lift London families out of food poverty, and it is astonishing that despite these figures the mayor has still refused to visit a foodbank in his six years in office.
"I am calling on him to visit a local foodbank in Greenwich and Lewisham so he can hear directly why people are hungry in our city."
The Mayor of London was unavailable for comment.