The number of donations made to the UK’s leading food bank provider has surged after an undercover Mail on Sunday journalist lied to obtain food for an article criticising the charity.
Before the article’s publication on Sunday, the Trussell Trust’s JustGiving page had received around 250 donations. At the time of writing, that figure has risen to 3,800 with a total of £43,274 having been donated.
Many donors have cited the article as their motivation for contributing to the charity. One said they were “prompted to donate in protest at the ridiculous and hateful Daily Mail article criticising a charity for helping the needy.”
Another added, “So glad to see people standing up to the Mail on Sunday and turning negativity into something positive for people who need it most. Keep up the good work.”
The article in question accused the organisation of conducting insufficient background checks on people using its service to ensure that their emergency food supplies were really needed.
Despite claiming in a sub-heading that visitors to food banks could claim food parcels with “no questions asked”, the article notes that an undercover journalist was asked “a series of questions”.
The reporter told staff at a Citizens Advice Bureau that he was an unemployed father of two to receive a food bank voucher.
The paper also said that undercover reporters in London and Nottinghamshire found that many of those claiming food parcels were asylum seekers, while many users flout the rules on how many food parcels an individual may receive in one year.
The Trussell Trust has been accused by the Department for Work and Pension of “misleading and emotionally manipulative publicity-seeking” in the past, and the Mail on Sunday also cast doubt on the charity’s claims that almost 1 million people would need its services this year.
However, campaigners and religious leaders have cited the rise of food banks as evidence of the need to act on food poverty and as a symptom of Britain’s growing wealth inequality.
In his Easter Sunday message, the archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby called for an end for poverty, saying, “In this country, even as the economy improves, there is weeping in broken families, in people ashamed to seek help from food banks, or frightened by debt.”
The surge in donations would seem to show that a section of the public support Welby’s message and agree more needs to be done to help those who can’t make ends meet.
A spokesperson from the Trussell Trust told Blue & Green Tomorrow that the true extent of donations made since yesterday – which will include direct donations not counted on the JustGiving page – had not yet been fully counted.
They added, “The Trussell Trust has been overwhelmed, humbled and totally blown away by the incredible acts of public kindness following the Mail on Sunday’s article.
“It’s amazing to see thousands of people showing that they care about people in poverty and donating to help. It will make a big difference to families in crisis. A massive thank you to everyone who’s given.”