2022 – Ukrainian refugees turn to food banks as UK hosts struggle to afford the costs | food pantry

A Ukrainian family’s hostess in London wrote to her local food bank “asking for help” because rising energy costs mean she can no longer feed her new guests.

The Ukrainian family, who now comes to a table in Euston, north London every week, is among a growing number of recently arrived refugees from the war-torn country who have to rely on aid to survive, according to the charity.

Euston food bank manager Helena Aksentjevich said she had received the letter from the Ukrainian family. Was from the host and said they are struggling to cover the extra costs of feeding two wives and two kids and extra energy costs.

Aksentjevich said the system was “chaotic” and that the number of Ukrainian refugees attending the commission, whose attendance had increased by 300% since the start of the pandemic, was rapidly increasing.

Under the Ukraine Homes scheme, refugees are entitled to a temporary living allowance of £200 provided by their local government and can apply for benefits including Universal Credit, Pension Credit, Disability Benefits, Caregiver Allowance and Child Benefit. However, some say their access to services has been delayed because they have not yet received the biometric residence permits. The government denies this.

Sponsors can claim £350 a month from the government. They don’t have to feed the refugees, but many do.

Most of the Ukrainians who attended the episodes are women with children, but Aksentjevich said a teenage girl visited them as well. “I can only imagine that we are getting more and more people out of this community,” she said.

The Independent Food Aid Network (IVAN) and the Trussell Trust, which together represent hundreds of food banks, report that newly arrived Ukrainians are seeking help to feed their families.

Evan said she produced Ukrainian versions of her Highland and Carlisle recommendation brochures.

A family who fled their home in oblast arrived at Luton Airport to meet their host. Many hosts are under increasing financial pressure. Photo: Martin Goodwin/The Guardian

“An adequate social security system will be able to support Ukrainian refugees who are struggling to find food,” said Sabine Goodwin, Evan’s coordinator.

Amid the mounting cost-of-living crisis, food banks are already struggling to meet the needs of people across the UK. Research conducted by the Food Network earlier this month found that 93% of its members reported an increase in the need for services since the beginning of the year, while more than 80% reported problems with the food supply.

Goodwin said the new measures on the cost of living crisis announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak last week were welcome, but added that “there is still a long way to go before people in Britain can count on the help that can be obtained in times of crisis”.

A refugee living alone in an emergency shelter in Exeter said she visited a painting after losing her home to a Ukraine sponsor. She said she was “received very well” and helped with choosing meals.

Sutton4Ukrainians, a support group, said one in three refugees they encounter go to the Tafel, because many are waiting for benefits or because their money is insufficient.

A spokesman said the temporary living allowance of £200 was insufficient. “It’s not much – public transportation is expensive,” they said, adding that refugees often want to be independent.

The Lifeafterhummus Community Benefit Society in North London worked with several Ukrainian refugees who visited their outdoor food truck. One family said they were taken care of but could not get food. Lifeafterhummus has also provided cooking supplies to the refugees.

Farah Rainfly, Group Operations Director, said the Ukrainian refugee problem was adding to the current cost-of-living crisis. “I have families come to me crying and saying, ‘I don’t know what to do.'”

A government spokesperson said: “We do not acknowledge these reports – Ukrainians can get benefits immediately without biometrics testing and receive an additional £200 while they are processed.

“Translation services are available to assist with telephone claims for benefits, welcome points have been set up to assist arrivals, and we are in constant contact with councils providing further assistance to a small number of Ukrainians who may need to send more assistance.”