Islington food bank sees applicants triple

KXC food bank

Food bank applications have tripled. - Credit: Emma Kenny

The ARC Centre food bank in Islington has seen the number of clients applying to receive food rise to three times above average.

When the St Peter’s-based food bank was first established in 2020, it initially ran a serving session once a week but this has now tripled to three times a week, serving 90 families. 

Melissa Clarke, food bank coordinator, said that on average she receives three new applications for the food bank service per week, but has seen nine in the past seven days. Increasing applications and limited resources mean that “some people will have to wait a little while” to access the services, Ms Clarke said.

One third of the new applicants gave the removal of the universal credit uplift as the reason for needing to use the food bank. Before the cut, one-third of the ARC Centre food bank clients received universal credit, so the effect has been strongly felt and Ms Clarke said her clients are “generally worried about cuts and benefits”.

The increased price of food and fuel is also causing concern for many clients and petrol shortages have posed difficulties for the volunteers trying to deliver food.

The food bank is working at full capacity, but the number of applications continues to increase. Ms Clarke said: “The need is definitely not going down and I’m expecting it to go through the roof.”

The food bank, which is part of the ARC community centre, was set up during the first lockdown in 2020 in response to the increasing needs of the local community during the Covid-19 crisis.

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Ms Clarke states that when the food bank was first established, the atmosphere was “warm” and the volunteers felt as though they were doing something “positive”, but now “some of us do worry amongst ourselves”. 

The end of the furlough scheme and the return to work has meant it is difficult to find as many volunteers, but Ms Clarke says she hopes that the food bank can “continue to serve everybody”.

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