This article originally appeared on VICE UK.
Since the coalition came to power in 2010, food poverty in Britain has risen dramatically. For those struggling to exist because of low pay, zero-hour contacts or delayed benefit payments, food banks aren't just helpful—they're a lifeline. They've also been one of the key points of contention in the build up to the imminent general election.
It's not hard to see why. Year after year, the numbers of people turning to food banks have continued to rise. There are no government stats, but the Trussell Trust, which runs more than 430 food banks in the UK and is the only source of routinely collected data from the last decade, says 913,138 people were given food parcels by its volunteers last year—an annual increase of nearly 300 percent.
VICE heads to Newcastle to go inside one of the busiest food banks in Britain, where food is being distributed for free to more than 1,000 people a week. We meet the dedicated volunteers and the locals for whom poverty has become a part of everyday life after decades of industrial decline and years of austerity cuts. Inevitably, in such a situation, the system will occasionally falter.
Statement from the Trussell Trust:
"Newcastle West End food bank is working hard to meet an incredibly high level of demand in an area where large numbers of people are struggling to feed themselves and their families. The challenging local situation meant that, at the time of filming, the foodbank was not operating to the standard Trussell Trust foodbank model. We have been partnering with the foodbank over the past few months to successfully develop new systems to meet these challenges and to help people break out of crisis faster."