New benefits linked to growing demand at foodbank

DEMAND for Enniskillen Foodbank has surged since the introduction of Universal Credit.
Since controversial benefit scheme, which was intended to “simplify” the benefits system but instead has been plagues with problems and controversy, came into effect earlier this year foodbanks across the UK have seen a marked increase in the number of people seeking support. Here in Fermanagh, where thousands have been switched to the new system, things have been no different.
“Universal Credit came in in February. From that point on the Foodbank has been really, really busy,” said Sharon West from Enniskillen Foodbank. “Normally at this time of year the weather is getting better
and that usually gives us time to restock. We’re not getting that opportunity to restock because it’s so busy.”
Ms West said there was definitely a direct correlation between the change in the benefits system.
“Without question,” she said. “We record down why people are using the Foodbank. A lot of people had been getting paid weekly and now, because of Universal Credit, they get paid monthly. So they have to wait five weeks to get their money.
“They’re going from weekly to nothing for five weeks. What they say is you can get an advanced payment, which will cover you until you get your payment, but you have to pay it back, so you’re actually in no
better position. It’s really bad for some people.”
Ms West said the Foodbank, while well supported, could always benefit from more donations and more volunteers.
“We have a really good core set of volunteers but we always need more. And we are always, always short of things like tinned vegetables, long-life milk, tinned fruit, canned meat, tinned potatoes, things like
that you can make a meal out of. We’re always short of things like that.”
To donate to the Foodbank, you can drop items into the designated trolleys in local supermarkets, drop your donation to the Foodbank itself at the Lakeland Vineyard Church, Cross Street, or you can donate money at For more information visit


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