A Guide to Food Aid in Leeds came about as a result of Unite Community’s national campaign against government-imposed sanctions on benefit claimants. In the Leeds and Wakefield Branch we established a Sanctions Working Group to consider ways in which we could support our members and others who have been sanctioned.
The guide has been produced in conjunction with Leeds-based project, Unity in Poverty Action. They have provided much of the information contained in this booklet and we are particularly indebted to their staff, Dave Paterson and Mary Halsey. Their considerable endeavours have also informed the work of the Leeds Aid Food Network (FAN) where further information about food aid and other assistance is available.
We are further indebted to all the agencies listed here which are providing food aid and advice.
Sanctions have been linked to poorer health, hunger, damage to family relationships, debt, homelessness and increased crime. Sanctions have also been linked to the deaths of some claimants. We also know that it is often the most vulnerable who are subjected to sanctions and often for fairly trivial reasons.
We also recognise that the need for support arises for reasons other than formal sanctions. For example, the qualifying time for Universal Credit and other benefit delays can feel like informal sanctions and create the need for support. The benefit cap, low wages and too few working hours also cause problems for many.
While campaigning remains a key part of our work, we also hope that this guide will provide a useful source of information for those who need practical support in these difficult times.
The Sanctions Working Group,
Unite Community Leeds & Wakefield Branch,