In the approach to Christmas, the media is full of news about how a combination of Universal Credit roll-out, benefits cuts, wage stagnation and rising prices are adding up to a stressful Christmas and an uncertain New Year. Politicians from across all parties[1] are voicing grave concerns about the impact and consequences of the Universal Credit system[2], the ongoing benefit freeze[3], changes to Child Tax Credits and the use of benefit sanctions. The nature of work, especially the ‘gig economy’, and the retail crisis, which has seen thousands facing job losses[4], is piling pressure upon individuals and families across the UK. To many people, these issues are cause for concern, but for those directly affected, all the signs seem to be that the New Year will bring no let-up in their worries about money. But here in Knowsley, there is a beacon of hope in this darkest of seasons: the Big Help Project, Knowsley Foodbank, which today pledges to ensure that no-one in Knowsley goes hungry this festive season.

This is a bold claim, but we are a charity that has aimed high from that start, setting up not only a foodbank, but also additional projects to address some of the drivers of poverty such as debt, unemployment, parenthood, or poor computer literacy. Through an unshakeable commitment to social justice, and unwavering practical and logistical support from Knowsley Council, we have generated an overall economic value in excess of £2.2 million since 2011[5]. But it is about more than just an economic return-hundreds of individuals and families from across the borough of Knowsley have been fed, cared for and shown the hand of friendship and support by an organisation with an unshakeable commitment to a core aim: to alleviate, and eventually eradicate, poverty in Knowsley and across the wider city region.

The challenges facing the UK, and the region, are complex, and unprecedented in modern times. But the message from the Big Help Project is a simple one: no-one, in any group, needs to face a Christmas and New Year of hunger and despair. This message goes out to families facing a five week wait before their first Universal Credit payment arrives. It goes out to those waiting for that payment, who are accruing rent arrears with each week that passes. It goes out to those paying back an advance of their Universal Credit, leaving them short on money each month and at risk of falling into poverty and debt. This message goes out to anybody who finds themselves without the money needed to feed and clothe themselves and their family.

The Big Help Project will always challenge the ideologies that permit poverty to exist, but our priority is to reach out to those affected by poverty. So, we invite anyone who is facing financial crisis this Christmas to contact us.

  • Phone the Knowsley Council’s Emergency Support Scheme on 0151 538 8243
  • Ring Knowsley Foodbank on 0151 482 6089 or 07731789794

There is an emergency food service over the Christmas and New Year period.

[1] The Home Affairs Select Committee, 22nd October 2018, https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmhaff/1015/101502.htm

[2] The New Statesman, 22nd October 2018, https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/welfare/2018/10/home-affairs-report-universal-credit

[3] The Children’s Society, 23/02/16; https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/news-and-blogs/press-releases/millions-of-children-face-benefits-freeze

[4] Centre for Retail Research, November 2018, http://www.retailresearch.org/2018yearofcrisis.php

[5] The Big Help Project Social Value Report, 2016,  https://www.big-help.info/media-centre