Is a food bank feeding 1 in 5 in Enniskillen?

CLAIM: Food bank in Enniskillen now feeding 1 in 5 people in the town.

CONCLUSION: INACCURATE. A formula by Trussell Trust results in 1,079 delivered food bank parcels representing an estimated 540 unique users. This would represent 9.8%, or 1 in 10, of the population of Enniskillen town.

Food bank parcels delivered in Enniskillen

On 13 April 2019, the Fermanagh Herald ran an article detailing the experience of a food bank which services the town. The Enniskillen Foodbank manager, John Shades, stated that in 2018, the food bank supplied over 2,400 people with food parcels: “It’s disproportionate, but at the minute we are feeding 1 in 5 people in the town.” He expanded on this with a statement that the population of the town was approximately 14,000.

The Enniskillen Foodbank is a member of a UK network of 428 food banks that are supported by Trussell Trust. For 2017-18, the Trussell Trust stated that its food bank network “distributed 1,332,952 three-day emergency food supplies to people in crisis, a 13% increase on the previous year”. The trust attributes the increase to the roll-out of the Universal Credit public policy. Although there is no data for Northern Ireland, the trust reported from its survey in Great Britain that many Universal Credit claimants had to come to food banks after long waits for payment and administrative problems pushed them into debt.

The Trussell Trust informed FactCheckNI that Enniskillen Foodbank delivered 1,079 food bank parcels, from April 2018 to March 2019.

Population of Enniskillen

Shades told us that people are coming to its food bank from beyond Enniskillen. While there is a usually resident population of 13,823 in the town (2011), the estimated usually resident population of the larger Enniskillen District Electoral Area was 18,290 (2017).

Likewise, there are 5,729 households in the town of Enniskillen (2011), with a headcount of 13,790 (average household size: 2.4). For the larger Enniskillen District Electoral Area (2014), there are 7,255 households (headcount unavailable).

What is the average household size in Northern Ireland?

From the 2011 Census, the average household size in the UK was 2.3 persons. For Northern Ireland, the average household size is 2.5 persons.

Source: ONS.

Feeding 1 in 5 families?

The Trussell Trust explains that their data system enabled it to calculate that people visited a food bank on average around two times in 2017-18. Thus, for its delivery of 1,332,952 food parcels in that time period, this equates to 666,476 unique users.

Using this formula allows us to estimate that the 1,079 food parcels delivered by Enniskillen Foodbank were given to around 540 unique users, and using the average of 2.5 persons per household in Northern Ireland), this equates to an estimated 1,350 persons fed.

This would represent 9.8% (1 in 10) of the population in Enniskillen town, or 7.4% (1 in 13) of the population in the Enniskillen DEA. (Likewise, 540 unique users would represent 9.4% (1 in 9) of the 5,729 households in Enniskillen town, or 7.4% (1 in 13) of the 7,255 households in the Enniskillen DEA.)

Summary

The figure of supplying 2,400 people with food parcels stated by the Enniskillen Foodbank manager does not match up with the figures Trussell Trust shared with FactCheckNI. Using the Trust’s data, their estimate of two food parcels per claimant per year, and the average of 2.5 persons per household in Northern Ireland, we estimate that 1,350 people, or 9.8% (1 in 10) of the town population was helped. The claim is inaccurate.

Image: Photo by Ian ALLENDUN used by license Dreamstime.com