The Trussell Trust

Working to end hunger in the UK

The Trussell Trust is here to end hunger in the UK – we know it can be done, but we won’t be able to get there on our own. That’s why having a long-term relationship with a funder like the Pears Foundation is so valuable. It has been particularly helpful that a large part of their funding has been unrestricted – giving us flexibility to build our capacity and resilience, so we’re able to properly to support a network of food banks that is providing nearly twice as many food bank parcels as it was five years ago. The Pears Foundation’s approach is unique, and has been crucial for us, and our network, in being able to respond to that increase while working towards a future where help is no longer needed.
Emma Revie, Chief Executive
The Trussell Trust
It's difficult to accept that there are families anywhere in the world who can't be sure of their next meal; the fact that these families are right here in Britain, in our own community, is unthinkable. Faith groups have a long tradition of supporting the most vulnerable in their community. The Trussell Trust has a tried and tested model for training volunteers, establishing a network of referral agencies and meeting the many logistical challenges involved in operating a foodbank. We see foodbanks as an excellent example of how to mobilise local community support to meet one of the most fundamental of needs.
Sir Trevor Pears CMG

Partner since: 2007

Funding invested: £1.5m

  • Core: Unrestricted funding
  • Project: Income maximisation

14 million people live below the poverty line in Britain today, including 4 million children. Every day people in the UK go hungry for reasons ranging from redundancy to receiving an unexpected bill on a low income.

Pears Foundation’s partnership with the Trussell Trust Foodbank Network dates back to 2007, when the Network was just being established as a social franchise and the economic climate was very different. The Trussell Trust now operates the largest network of UK foodbanks, which provide three days’ emergency food and support to people experiencing crisis.

The Trussell Trust partners with churches and communities to run foodbanks nationwide. All food is donated by the public or by the food industry and sorted by volunteers. Frontline care professionals such as doctors and social workers identify people in crisis and issue a food voucher, in exchange for which clients receive three days’ worth of nutritionally balanced, non- perishable food. As well as providing food, volunteers are trained to identify any long term problems and signpost people to agencies locally who can help. Some foodbanks also run a rural delivery service, taking emergency food parcels to clients who cannot afford to get to their nearest foodbank.

Pears Foundation has provided core funding to the Trussell Trust Foodbank Network since 2007. This support, with crucial operating costs, has helped them build capacity and provide consistency in the standards of development and training across the expanding network.

As the Covid-19 pandemic hit there was a massive increase in need. In the first year of the pandemic, the number of food parcels distributed by the Trust’s network topped 2 million for the first time, with over 2.5 million food parcels distributed. More than 980,000 of these went to children, a 36% rise compared with 2019/20. As the cost of living rises, the Trust faces the challenge of providing for increased need at a time when people are less able to afford to donate.

Increasingly, foodbanks are offering additional services, from cookery courses to connecting clients with agencies that are looking at ways to address the underlying causes of financial crises and food insecurity and help them break the cycle of poverty.

This is why in 2020 we made a £1million grant to enable the Trussell Trust to roll out a national ‘income maximisation’ strategy aimed at tackling destitution by raising incomes. Over five years the Trust will set up a national programme of specialist benefits advice, creating sustainable services that meet local need and help make sure people have the money they need. Delivery was disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic but the Trussell Trust and Pears Foundation remain committed to the strategy and its long-term aim of reducing the need for food banks.

We had previously supported a Child Poverty Action Group income maximisation pilot based at a food bank in Tower Hamlets. This demonstrated the positive impact welfare rights and benefits advice can have; over the course of eight years, the project returned a total of £4.2m to 1,512 clients.

Pears Foundation also supports StreetGames’ Fit and Fed programme, which offers fun physical activities and nutritious, healthy meals to vulnerable young people.