Poverty is a problem in Uckfield

Town Councillor Ben Cox bought a motion to the full meeting of Uckfield Town Council on Monday evening.

He commented on social media:

“Last night at full council my motion was passed with the backing of almost the full council with one councillor abstaining”

“This isn’t the end for my motion and now the real work has to start by me. I found the councillors comments helpful and now I look to do my best to implement this motion”

Poverty in Uckfield facts

Background

“Over the last 9 years of low growth, wage stagnation and austerity, overall poverty and especially food poverty has grown.

  • 27.3% of Uckfield Newtown
  • 15.0% of Ridgewood
  • 28.0% of Uckfield East 
  • 32.0% North are considered to be living in poverty (located within ward statistic profiles on Wealden DC website).

A new Food Foundation affordability report highlighted that 3.7 million children in the UK are likely to be unable to afford a healthy and balanced diet, as defined by the government’s Eatwell Guide. It also noted that the poorest households in the UK — those earning less than £15,860 — would have to spend 42% of their disposable income to meet the dietary recommendations outlined in the guide.

Recent reports show that children from food-insecure households are more prone to chronic disease in late adolescence. “There’s a cluster of health consequences that go with the stress of food insecurity,” says Taylor. “The anxiety, depression and general mental health impacts are massive, because getting food for your children is the only thing you think about, day in and day out.”

The average young person living in food poverty will lose out on four months education over a year because their brain is starving when out of free school meal time. This has a detrimental effect on their lives and also our local economy in the future.

As we also know, use of Uckfield Food Bank has grown over the years and it has run out of food a number of times. Each year the food bank receive around 10,000kg – 15,000kg, the equivalent of 125 large supermarket shopping trolleys but it isn’t enough.

Uckfield Food Bank explained:
“In 2012 we began to hear that people living in Uckfield were travelling to Hailsham and Haywards Heath to use the foodbanks there. When we investigated the local indices of deprivation we found that 24% of households in Uckfield live in poverty. For these households an unexpected bill, a delay in receiving wages or benefits, a long-term illness or no access to free school meals during school holidays could easily mean families need help from a foodbank.”

Even with the amazing work that the Food Bank in Uckfield is doing, they cannot do it alone. We believe working closely with charities like Foodcycle, Chomp – Brighton and the Church, we can help ease the growing problem until a time that food poverty is no longer an issue in Uckfield.

It should be a priority of this Council to end youth food poverty in the lifetime of this seating Council.
Motion

Uckfield Town Council Council notes that –
“Youth Food Poverty is growing and that overall food poverty is growing in Uckfield.

The Town Council resolves to:
•Investigate the size of youth food poverty in Uckfield primary and secondary schools and to our best endeavours try to reduce it within the life of this council;

•Look at working with external bodies (food cycle and chomp) to assist in tackling food poverty in young people;

•Run an information campaign to inform the public on how to deal with food poverty using local charities and government aids. This could include advising councillors in order to enable them to spread the word;

•Work closely with schools to see what assistance is needed to help reduce the effects of food poverty in their students (i.e. breakfast and after school clubs)”

Uckfield Foodbank said in response on their social media page:

‘I recognise that this article will raise many issues for debate but would just like to clarify that Uckfield Foodbank is extremely well supported by our local community and is well stocked. Occasionally we run low on certain items and will post on here specific requests. Within days – sometimes hours! – the stock of the specific items has returned to normal. This is not the case for all foodbanks but Uckfield residents are FANTASTIC and donate regularly’