'Depth of despair' in UK shown as Brits answer one key question about their childhoods

Two-thirds of low-income families questioned believe their community has declined since their childhoods, a survey reveals today.

A poll of thousands of members of The Bread and Butter Thing (TBBT) charity lays bare the scale of the challenge facing the next government in tackling the despair gripping some areas.

The online study asked: “Do you think your community feels better or worse off than it did when you were a child?”

Of the 4,682 people who responded, an overwhelming majority of 67 per cent said it felt worse, 17 per cent said it felt the same and just 16 per cent said it felt better.

Common complaints highlighted the lack of local amenities such as youth clubs for youngsters, too few police on the streets and overcrowded hospitals.

The gloomy responses lay bare the dejection felt in some key constituencies across swathes of the North West, North East and East Midlands where TBBT operates – including key Red Wall electoral battlegrounds – as voters prepare to vote in the July 4 general election.

'depth of despair' in uk shown as brits answer one key question about their childhoods

The Bread and Butter thing distributes food packages to those in need

Among Red Wall constituencies with some of the highest percentages saying things had got worse since their childhoods were Stockton South (82 per cent), Doncaster North (76%) and North West Durham (73%).

Lifting spirits in some of these constituencies will be as big a challenge for the next administration as reviving economic growth – a major target of the main parties vying for support at the ballot box next month.

TBBT’s chief executive Mark Game said: “These findings show the depth of despair that has set in across some communities – and highlight how much whoever forms the next government will have to fight to restore hope.

“Our members are among the lowest 10 to 20 per cent of communities on the Index of Multiple Deprivation.

“Party leaders battling for their votes should understand just how bad things are out there – and the strength of feeling that things have got worse over recent decades.”

TBBT is a Manchester-based food distribution charity, working in 120 locations across 23 local authorities from the East Midlands to North Tyneside, providing for 80,000 members.

TBBT delivers healthy, low-cost food to communities every week, sourced directly from manufacturers and retailers including Aldi, Asda, Lidl, Cranswick, Brakes, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s.

Members pay £5 for a single bag, £8.50 for a three-bag family package or £17 for a large family package of six bags.

This low-cost weekly shop provides essential produce for family eating – fresh fruit and veg, fridge favourites and cupboard staples that allow members to eat better and cook more.

The charity aims to tackle food waste, improve diets and help families who have been hit by soaring food prices.

It wants the next government to focus on three policies to help tackle food waste and provide healthy meals for poorer households – easing the obesity crisis. Recommendations include:

Working with surplus food distribution organisations to better understand the impact of policy decisions on those considered as “just about managing”.

Introducing mandatory food waste reporting which will allow food surplus distribution services to be baked into the long-term business plans of manufacturers and suppliers – helping level-up access to healthy foods, which will tackle obesity at the coal face of struggling communities.

Encouraging retailers to give manufacturers authorisation to redistribute their surplus own-brand products without the need to remove branding or packaging.

Mark said: “At The Bread Butter Thing, we help providing fresh, healthy affordable food to our 80,000 members and 120 food hubs in low-income communities.

“Food has the power to bring communities together and that everyone deserves easy access to affordable, nutritious food. It’s time for political leaders to step up and do more to tackle food waste, provide healthy meals and confront the ticking timebomb that is Britian’s obesity epidemic.”

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