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Food bank referral forms being faked by desperate Cumbrian families

Desperate Carlisle families are turning to crime to put food on their plates.

Beans photo
People are shoplifting food

And some people are so hard up they are even trying to rip off a local service offering free food parcels, a charity has revealed.

It comes as one of Britain’s top police officers has warned that more people are shoplifting to feed themselves and their families.

Lancashire Chief Constable Steve Finnigan said many first-time offenders were stealing basics like meat and cheese.

Captain Mark Sellers, from Carlisle’s Salvation Army, said that the number of people using the city’s foodbank service, which gives out free food parcels to those most in need, is growing every month.

Around 250 people a month, many “desperately hungry”, are being referred to the scheme by other agencies in Carlisle alone.

Mr Sellers said: “It wouldn’t surprise me if some of those who come to us resort to stealing food.

“In one session alone about two weeks ago we handed out 35 food parcels. This time last year we weren’t doing anything near that so it is getting worse and we’ve not been hit by winter yet.”

Mr Sellers also revealed that some people had falsified their food bank referral forms to get hold of the free food parcels.

“Some are even trying to defraud the system in place to help them,” he said.

“But it’s out of pure desperation rather than them wanting to do it.”

He added that the number of food parcels was limited to three per person, unless in exceptional circumstances, to make the system as fair as possible.

Meanwhile, the News & Star has reported on several local court cases in recent months involving people who have resorted to stealing food, clothes and other everyday items as they struggle to make ends meet.

In sentencing a prolific thief at Carlisle Crown Court this week, a judge said he had seen many cases where parents had been forced to steal food for their children.

The judge, Recorder Mark Ainsworth, said: “While this is equally criminal, one can have some sympathy.”

Cumbria Police said officers were dedicated to tackling any type of theft, including shoplifting.

A spokesman added: “We acknowledge that some may feel they need to resort to these measures but crime does not pay and people will end up in more trouble by resorting to crime.

“We recommend that those in this situation seek help and support.”

The Rev John Libby, of St James’ Church in Denton Holme, said: “Stealing is not the answer. In cases of legitimate need or temporary hardship there should be no problem from either social services, food banks or churches in getting any assistance.

“If there are problems we need to know so we can adjust the support system.”

Have your say

I just hope that young kids see these people having to visit foodbanks to feed themselves and their families, and be inspired to try hard at school and to drive themselves forward in life through education and ambition rather than relying on the state/charity/church to pick up the pieces when they are not in a position to provide themsleves with the lifestyle they want.

Posted by Bob on 8 October 2013 at 17:22

When people attend these Foodbanks - apart from the food - are they given instruction on how to "prepare for the future" - such as budgeting their income to make sure they always have enough to buy necessities rather than the luxuries of life (i.e. cut down on buying "designer labels" and opt for cheaper but just as good food)

I think it was Oxfam that started the slogan on the lines of "Don't give him the fish for his meal - but give him the fishing rod so he can go and catch his food"

The main problem today is - majority of people just do not know how to budget - and to set their priorities (i.e. expensive mobile phones/IT equipment instead of buying special offers on food that can be frozen and put in freezer for using when the budget does not stretch)

Posted by Sarah on 8 October 2013 at 09:41

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