Forward by Emma Revie
More and more people in our society are being left with no option but to turn to a food bank to feed themselves or their family. But as our most in-depth study on hunger to date shows, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Food bank managers and volunteers have known for years what is pushing people towards hunger in their communities and have been working tirelessly to support the growing number of people facing hardship who are forced to their doors. But for the first time, we now know the breadth and depth of hunger in Northern Ireland, as well its causes, impacts and who is most likely to be affected.
When I first read these findings, I was left feeling deeply saddened. How can it be that in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, one in six of us are facing hunger because we simply don’t have enough money? Hardship at this scale isn’t the end of the story, as people facing hunger are more likely to be affected by worrying levels of social isolation and loneliness, spiralling debt, and a decline in physical and mental health.
The stories and statistics contained in the pages of this report shine a light on the devastating reality of hunger in Northern Ireland today for so many people across our region. But balanced with this concern, these findings also provide me with hope. Now in more depth and detail than ever before, we know who is more likely to need a food bank as well as what is pushing them there. That means we know what needs to change if we’re going to build a more just society where everyone has enough money for the essentials. It is clear that we need a social security system which provides protection and dignity for people to cover the costs of their own essentials, such as food and bills.
I hope that, as well as building our collective understanding of what is pushing people towards hunger, this vital piece of research will provide a common ground on which we can all unite. That as well as sounding the alarm, this report can inspire us to act and equip us to stand shoulder to shoulder across different sectors, spaces and communities, and to speak with one voice that is impossible to ignore about the changes we need to see.
Because in coming together, and working together, we will build a future where none of us need a food bank, because none of us will allow it.