New figures released today by food charity the Trussell Trust reveal that more than 20,000 emergency food parcels were provided to people in East Lancashire within the past 12 months.

From April 2023 to March 2024, the Trussell Trust saw the highest number of food parcels distributed in a single year by food banks in the charity’s UK-wide network.

Around 356,000 emergency food parcels were provided to people in the North West, with nearly 132,000 of these for children.

This represents a 58 per cent increase in the total support provided compared to five years ago.

Emergency food parcels in Blackburn with Darwen were distributed to 12,303 adults and 9,132 children from just one distribution centre, Blackburn Foodbank.

In the Ribble Valley, 1,957 food parcels were distributed to adults, and 1,548 food parcels were distributed to children, from two centres.

The Trussell Trust says the number of people going without the essentials is higher than ever before, as despite falling inflation prices are still much higher than previously, with this year’s figures representing a two per cent increase compared to last year.

Emma Revie, chief executive at the Trussell Trust, said: “It’s 2024 and we’re facing historically high levels of food bank need.

"As a society, we cannot allow this to continue. We must not let food banks become the new norm.

"As we approach the next UK General Election, we urgently need all political leaders to set out how they will build a future where no one needs a food bank to survive.

"Voters want to see a change and we need cross-government action at all levels to deliver it. We know what's pushing people to food banks, so we know what needs to change.

“A supportive social security system is the bedrock on which we end hunger for good. Building on this, we need much more effective employment and financial support for parents, carers and disabled people and action to ensure everyone can have the security we all need to access opportunities and have hope for the future, through more secure and flexible jobs and investment in social housing.

“Food banks are not the answer. They will be there to support people as long as they are needed, but our political leaders must take bold action to build a future where everyone has enough money to afford life’s essentials. The time to act is now.”

The charity warns the picture is unlikely to change in 2025, unless 'bold action is taken' with the government’s additional cost of living payments coming to an end, leaving many people at a financial cliff edge.

Two-thirds (65 per cent) of all support provided by food banks in the Trussell Trust network last year was for families with children.

The charity reports too many people who previously didn’t need to turn to a food bank are now left with no other option, with more than 81,000 people in the North West needing to use a food bank for the first time last year, a 26 per cent increase from five years ago. 

A spokesperson for Blackburn with Darwen Foodbank said: "We are disheartened to witness another year of increased usage, as highlighted by the recent statistics from the Trussell Trust.

"It's imperative for the government to support initiatives like the Guarantee the Essentials Campaign, ensuring everyone can afford life's necessities.

"While we're committed to providing emergency food support, our true aim is to address poverty's root causes.

"We're collaborating closely with partners like The Oaks Money Advice Centre to achieve this. Together, we are working towards a future where foodbanks are no longer necessary."

Although families with children and working-age adults are still overrepresented at food banks, the charity has also seen a concerning increase in parcels going to pension-age households in the region, with 15,700 parcels provided for pension-age households, a 20 per cent increase compared to last year and a 190 per cent increase compared to five years ago.

The Trussell Trust is calling for urgent reform of the social security system as it is currently 'failing in its most basic duty', to protect people from going without essentials.

Alongside many other organisations, the anti-poverty charity is urging the UK Government to introduce an ‘Essentials Guarantee’ into Universal Credit to ensure everyone has a protected minimum amount of support to afford the essentials.

Ahead of the coming general election, the Trust is urging all political leaders to set out how they will build a future where no one needs a food bank to survive.

It also warns that the current plan to end the Household Support Fund in September will have devastating consequences for communities across England.

The Fund has provided a vital lifeline, with most local crisis support relying on it to fund direct help for people struggling to afford unexpected costs and preventative advice and support.

This article previously stated data from 2018 for Blackburn and Ribble Valley Foodbank. It has now been updated with data from 2024.