CLAIMS made by a national newspaper that a Salisbury charity providing emergency food parcels to people in need is being exploited by “fraudsters” and “scroungers” have prompted a huge surge of public support for the charity.
The Mail on Sunday reported that the Trussell Trust was giving out food parcels without adequate checks and food was being given to asylum-seekers.
Undercover reporters were sent to food banks after the charity’s latest figures showed the number of people asking for help had soared by 163 per cent over the past year, topping 900,000 nationwide.
The newspaper accused the charity of “self-promotion” and “exaggeration”, but the public reacted by flooding the charity with donations and messages of support for its work.
A spokesman for the Trussell Trust said: “The publication of the article on Easter Sunday which criticised the charity outraged many. “Thousands of people took to social media to express their support for The Trussell Trust and its foodbanks; starting something momentous.”
Well-known names including author Mark Haddon, musician Billy Bragg and comedian Jon Ronson donated to the Trussell Trust Easter appeal to show their support and encouraged others to do the same. More than 4,500 people donated to the charity’s Help Crack UK Hunger online, raising more than £50,000 in just two days, with the general fund also seeing increased donations.
Chief executive, David McAuley said: “It's been amazing to see thousands of people react in such a positive way. I would like to thank everyone who got behind this campaign and not just for their donations, but also for the positive words of encouragement."
And the trust hit back at the claims made by the Mail on Sunday and the methods used by its reporters.
A statement said: “There will always be those who try to abuse a system, which is why the Trussell Trust has a number of processes built into its system to reduce that risk. However, evidence from our foodbanks across the UK shows that these people are a tiny minority.
“The Trussell Trust feels that these undercover methods, used by Mail on Sunday journalists, to enter the premises of our voluntarily run food banks is an unacceptable attempt to tarnish not only the name of the Trussell Trust, but also the valuable efforts of the 30,000 volunteers who selflessly give up their time to provide a valuable service to people in real need.”
To donate to the Trussell Trust Help Crack UK Hunger go to justgiving.com/crack-uk-hunger.
• A collection will be held on behalf of the foodbanks at the Salisbury Waitrose store from 9am to 4pm on Saturday.