The number of people being forced to food banks in south east London has soared, with 17,000 emergency food parcels given out in four of the region's boroughs over the last six months.

New charity figures have shown that more people in the UK are using foodbanks than ever before, but the total rise across Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich, and Lewisham is almost double the national average.

The Trussell Trust's mid-year figures show that in the six months prior to the Christmas period (April 1 to September 30), 823,145 three-day emergency food parcels were given out across the charity's national foodbank network. 301,653 of these went to children.

This is a 23% national increase compared to the same period in 2018, the sharpest increase the charity has seen for the past five years.

London as a whole sits below the national average, but across Lewisham, Greenwich, Bexley and Bromley, the increase in food parcels needed was a stunning 41%.

The borough of Bexley saw the sharpest rise in foodbank use, and one of the largest rises nationwide, with 60% more emergency supplies given out than in 2018.

Greenwich and Bromley saw 39% and 36% rises respectively, whilst Lewisham's foodbank gave away 28% more parcels.

Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, said: "Our benefits system is supposed to protect us all from being swept into poverty, but currently thousands of women, men and children are not receiving sufficient protection from destitution.

"This is not right. But we know this situation can be fixed – our benefits system could be the key to unlocking people from poverty. This General Election, all political parties must pledge to protect people from hunger by ensuring everyone has enough money for the basics."

The mid-year report also looked into the main reasons behind people needing emergency food, with low benefit income (36%) and delays or changes to benefits being paid (34%) the leading drivers.

If you'd like the help out at your local foodbank in the lead up to Christmas, the Trussell Trust have a number of ways in which you can support the cause.