Reverse advent calendar campaign

How you can join in the FoodbankAdvent campaign


This post was updated for 2018

I intend to participate for 2019

FoodbankAdvent background

Many of us love the Xmas advent calendar, especially those with children who get a chocolate each day don’t we? (And just where did those advent calendars go that just had the picture??) But many families are sleeping in bed and breakfast (that’s a just a term by the way, there is no breakfast).  The breadwinner has simply lost their job or fallen sick  and/or most have fallen foul of the failure known as the benefits system and the chaos that Iain Duncan Smith started. And let’s not forget he resided over it for some time before completely messing up the Universal Credit system for someone else to take the blame! But hey that’s just my opinion! Many of these families are local to YOU and their children go to YOUR children’s school. That is if you don’t already have use of it yourself as the numbers of users are growing out of control.

It is just so wrong that whilst many of us over indulge this Christmas, so many people will be struggling to feed their kids at all and/or will go hungry themselves through no fault of their own. With no school meals over the holidays and the need to heat homes, the struggle is even worse at this time than any other.  The use of foodbanks rises by 45% in December. The reverse advent calendar is just one small way in which you can give something back and it’s helping your local community too.

What is the Reverse Advent Calendar?

This reverse advent calendar is a great idea. It’s been happening for a few years now all over the world. The UK Money bloggers have launched a campaign to really give it a push again this year and as one of the bloggers I am helping to promote it.

Each day for 24 days you put something for the food bank in a box and at the end of this time give it to your local foodbank. Some sites start on the 1st December and hand it in on the 24th December. But please see Tips and ideas below as most of us are doing it through November. We are doing 30 days again too so it’s all up to you!

Statistics on the use of foodbanks

The Trussell Trust’s Foodbank network of over 425 foodbanks handed out 1,182,954 three-day emergency food supplies given to people in crisis in the year April 2016 – March 2017. But remember there are many more foodbanks all over the country which are not part of this network so the numbers are far bigger that need to use these services.

Trussell Trust’s foodbank network provided 1,332,952 three day food supplies between 1st April 2017 and 31st March 2018, a 13% increase from the previous year and issues with benefits continue to be the most common cause of referral.

Early Warnings: Universal Credit and Foodbanks, highlights that although the rollout of the new Universal Credit system for administering benefits has been piecemeal so far, foodbanks in areas of partial or full rollout are reporting significant problems with its impact.

Key findings of foodbank use

The Trussell Trust commissioned an 18-month research project from the University of Oxford, led by Dr Rachel Loopstra where the key findings were:

• Households using food banks face extreme financial vulnerability. All food bank users had, in the last month, an income well below the threshold for low income. More than 1/3 of households experienced an income shock in the past three months and over 2/3 reported unexpected and rising expenses during the same period.
• Almost half of households reported their incomes were unsteady from week to week or month to month.
• Half of households included someone with a disability.
• Lone parents and their children constitute the largest number of people receiving help from food banks, though single male households are the most common household type.
• Over 78% of households were severely food insecure. For a majority of households, this was a chronic experience, happening every month or almost every month over the past 12 months.
• Food bank users experience multiple forms of destitution – 50% had gone without heating for more than four days in the past 12 months, and 1 in 5 had slept rough in the last 12 months.

28 Reverse advent calendar tips and ideas

  1. Think about when you want to do this. Doing it through December may seem like a good idea but if you are going to put some Xmas related food things in there, it may be too late for the food bank to donate. Find out from your local one when would be best to donate, it may want a mix as donations may be fewer in January. Trussell Trust has said to us specifically that they would like donations earlier in December.
  2. Google foodbank and your local area, not all foodbanks are run by Trussell, many are by other charities and churches.
  3. Contact your local foodbank and see if there are items of which they particularly short, and when would be best for you to drop off the box.  Although they will be grateful for anything 20 cartons of UHT milk maybe something they are short of possibly more useful than 20 different tins of beans and soup.
  4. Remember that some foodbanks also welcome toiletries so that families can maintain dignity and this will last them longer than the 3 days of food that they get too.
  5. Obviously foodbanks need non perishables, but look for long term sell by dates too to make it easier for foodbanks to manage. It could be that your foodbank gets masses for Xmas and then has nothing except going out of date food in the Spring or nothing at all! Ask what is best for them.
  6. Get the children involved, decorating the box, ideas of what to put in and perhaps even donate some pocket money or sweets?
  7. Drawer full of toiletries gift sets? Donate them
  8. Share the idea on social media with #FoodbankAdvent to spread the word
  9. Pastas, dried fruit, tins of soup, vegetables, rice pudding, custard etc., packets and jars of sauces, biscuits, tea/coffee, UHT milk, long life juices, baby food, rice, cereals, noodles, health bars, lentils, cakes, mince pies, Xmas puddings, bread/similar which keeps longer than fresh, such as part baked bread, waffles, wraps etc., crisps and other savoury items, soap, deodorant, shower gel, toothpaste, toothbrushes, sanitary products, toilet rolls, baby wipes and shampoo. Think of things that don’t need to be heated too, such as cold meats and fish so a substantial meal can still be had and boxes of Smash that only need water to make.
  10. Carrier bags! Or conference totes/canvas bags for life instead for more eco friendly use!
  11. If you want to support pregnant women and families with infants see the First Steps Nutrition advice. (Note, Foodbanks usually won’t take formula.)
  12. Remember users of foodbanks are struggling to feed their families, as well as the essentials, so think about putting some treats in such as chocolates too (think of buying when buy one get one free on those tubs for even more!)
  13. Get the bargains when you see them in the supermarket and bargain shops which will good for toiletries. When you get the buy one get one frees consider giving them both that day!
  14. Keep an eye out for coupons and discount codes for items that you wouldn’t use yourself but would make ideal items for the foodbank
  15. Don’t forget to look in your cupboards for food you bought or were given but are now unlikely to use
  16. If you are going to get things with shorter life span such as part bake bread get them nearer the end of the 24 days!
  17. It was on one of those food programmes about saving money a few weeks ago showing that if you go down the World Food aisle that you will often find similar products just with a different name to that you are used to but are actually cheaper
  18. You don’t need a fancy box! Anything will do, everything gets sorted when it arrives at the foodbank and you don’t have to think what goes with what, the volunteers will sort into bags for users for you.
  19. Consider throwing in some sachets of herbs, remember that a lot of those emergency food bags will be full of bulky plain food, herbs and spices will add some flavour and take up little room in that bag
  20. Foodbanks are run by volunteers, consider volunteering or donating long term
  21. Think about getting your workplace colleagues to run some boxes, make it competitive between teams if you work in a big workplace! Or use it as way to spread the cost, you could also do this with your neighbours and your children’s clubs and groups
  22. Great Tip! Shopmium and Checkoutsmart Now, here’s a great little app. If you go to Shopmium* you can get food with discounts or even for free. That’s a referral link, so if you go through and sign up on that I’ll get a freebie, you get a freebie and you will see the offers on at the moment which change all the time. Then you will have your own referral code too. I am using the offers to get discounts on perishables plus perishables that I don’t like so that the foodbank can get extra too taking advantage of every bargain I can get to be able to give more. Wins all round! All you need to do is take a photo of the bar code and receipt and you get your cash back. Shopimum uses all the major supermarkets. Checkoutsmart no referral codes but works same way. Seems to have more looking through at the moment.
  23. When you are out shopping, tell the assistants what you are doing, you may inspire other people to join in.
  24. Check with your foodbank how and when is best for dropping of your boxes.
  25. Healthy is good, but some people have just a kettle so pot noodles are fine too.
  26. Check if you have a babybank near you. Google babybank and your area. You may have seen Dispatches on babybanks? Expectant and new parents who have nothing for their newborns at what should be a double exciting time. Consider donating baby items, contact the banks to see what they need.
  27. There won’t be fresh meat or fish to put jars/packets of sauce on, so think about tinned meat and fish and also packets of soya.
  28. See if your foodbank also takes food for pets. Someone could have a pet and was looking after it quite well until the transfer to UC saw that they went without money for 5 weeks so now they can’t feed their pet either.

From I, Daniel Blake:

Iain Duncan Smith and politics

Can’t really do a post about foodbanks without mentioning this really.

Those of you who have been following my blog for some time will know that I interviewed Iain Duncan Smith when he was Director of Death and Destruction because he is my MP (don’t blame me I didn’t vote for him). The Complaining Cow Meets Iain Duncan Smith #IDSfail and Round 2 The Complaining Cow Meets IDS  when I went a second time much to his displeasure. I used the fact that I could go to his surgeries and took him to task in the limited time I had. One of the things, amongst many, was foodbanks.

The Complaining Cow and Iain Duncan Smith discuss Food Banks

I did let the food bank know of his request but I don’t think they wanted him there! One can understand why not.

And whilst we are about it. Jacob Rees-Mogg is one of the wealthiest MPs in Parliament. He has reportedly made millions of pounds in high finance and is due to inherit £100 million from his family estate. Know what he said about foodbanks? “The rise of food banks across the UK is actually “rather uplifting” because it shows the British people are charitable” and “The real reason for the rise in numbers is because people know they are there and Labour refused to tell them.” Idiocy for a supposedly educated man. One of those academics with no common sense. Or empathy. Or compassion. Or understanding of issues facing millions of families in the UK.

So who is first against the wall come the revolution do you think? Duncan Smith? Rees-Mogg? May? Farage? Gove? It’s ok I think there will be enough of us to take them all.

Since when did feeding UK children boil down to volunteers?

Foodbank volunteers donate at least £30million a year in unpaid work Foodbank volunteers ‘perform £30million a year worth of unpaid work’, shock study reveals Volunteers do a staggering 2,909,196 hours of unpaid work distributing food – and calculating the value of their time using the minimum wage, currently £7.50 an hour for the over 25s, it equates to £21,818,967 a year; or 55,945 hours, with a value of £419,587 each week. Should feeding children with no food or heating really be down to volunteers and donations?

Universal Credit and the impact on foodbank usage

The Trussell Trust report The next stage of Universal Credit states that: “When Universal Credit goes live in an area, there is a demonstrable increase in demand in local Trussell Trust foodbanks. On average, 12 months after rollout, foodbanks see a 52% increase in demand, compared to 13% in areas with Universal Credit for 3 months or less. This increase cannot be attributed to randomness and exists even after accounting for seasonal and other variations.

More detailed foodbank referral data show that benefit transitions, most likely due to people moving onto Universal Credit, are increasingly accounting for more referrals and are likely driving up need in areas of full Universal Credit rollout. Waiting for the first payment is a key cause, while for many, simply the act of moving over to a new system is causing hardship.

This poses serious questions for the next stage of Universal Credit, where many people could lose their benefits entirely or find themselves with less income. The Department’s current plans involve sending letters to people informing them their claim will be terminated if they do not apply for Universal Credit within a four week period. Each claimant will then have to wait at least five weeks for their first payment. Some of the most vulnerable people in our country will be moved onto Universal Credit under this next stage, with half claiming tax credits and a third claiming disability benefits.
The Department plans to offer support for vulnerable claimants, but has not set out how they will identify vulnerability or what support will be offered. ‘Transitional protection’, where no claimant should receive less under Universal Credit than legacy benefits, can be lost if claims are incorrect or if minor circumstances change.”

Quick word on donating Advent calendars

It may cross your mind to donate some chocolate advent calendars. However, for those of us who have them, it leads up to the big day. Most families, if not all using a foodbank, will be using food possibly not even heated for Christmas day. Just another day, no big build up.

Also some get inundated and for others they arrive too late.

I am going to donate a load of selection boxes again  this year with the calendar box instead:

selection boxes

Rounding up on the reverse foodbankadvent

So, are you going to do your box with me? I’m starting on the 1st November again. My supermarket delivery comes tomorrow so I’ve just added some items to it! Share on social media using the #foodbankadvent hashtag to encourage others. If you have any more tips, or ideas to share please do add them in the comments and please share the word wherever you can, it is such a good idea and helps so many people who really are in a desperate situation.

I’ll leave the last word to Lisi, daughter of Becky Goddard-Hill who blogs at Babybudgeting. So get your kids involved too. My son  decorated (ish!) the box but wouldn’t do anything on camera so well done Lisi!

Reverse Advent Calendar – What is it? #FoodbankAdvent #reverseadventcalendar

The contents of my foodbank boxes Christmas 2017 and 2018

Day 10 2017

A third of the way in. The more eagle eyed will note that there are more than 10 items in here! That’s because so far I have got 3 jars of baby food, some chick pea puffs and some baked pea snacks for free so they are bonus items!

They came from 3 different shops using Shopmiumand Checkoutsmart.

Day 15 2017

Half way in (we are doing 30 days)day 15 items for the foodbank, baby food, biscuits, broth, chocolates, tuna, mackrel, toothpaste etc

Day 20 2018

 

Day 22 2017

Two thirds (and a day!) in

Day 22 foodbank box, cereal, crisps, biscuits, rice, tins etc

Day 30 2017

Finished and ready to donate
2 boxes full of stuff for foodbank

 

Day 30 2018

Tins pasta biscuits deodorant baby foodAnd I didn’t eat them:

10 chocolate advent calendars

Ready to deliver!

 

Vlogmas With The Drews Day 6 | How much can £10 buy for a food bank? | Emma Drew

 

A sad reflection on society when you also have The Advent of Folly

*referral link

25 top finance blogs (saving, making, investing, tips & more)

Although this blog is about consumer rights and how not to get fobbed off, I thought it might be useful to share some good money blogs with you. If you are interested in knowing your rights you may also be interested in finding out about ways to save and make money on a variety of things from holidays to personal finance, food to energy saving and selling stuff! There are of course thousands of blogs out there run by people keen to share their ideas and sometimes you may stumble across them and some that are equally as good that you don’t. So I’ll list some for you all in one place so that if you fancy putting your feet up with a cuppa or glass of wine, here are some good ones to start you off. If you find any of them useful or you’d like them to cover a financial issue that fits with their blog then please do mention it in a comment on their (not mine!) blog.

I have tried to provide a varied list to give lots of choice of what’s out there, so that each one I’m showing you, is for the most part, quite different to another.

Be Clever With Your Cash is a blog about helping you do the same. It picked up Best Personal Finance Blog at this year’s Headlinemoney awards. (I was nominated I’ll have you know, but my blog is pretty niche! “I only do complaining” I often say!) Run by Andy Webb covers all sorts of great stuff.

Skint Dad fed up of being skint and struggling to make ends meet; in 2013 husband and wife team Ricky and Naomi Willis launched the blog to help other people in the same boat. Whether you’re looking to cut back on your food bill, save for a rainy day, or find inventive ways to up your income; Skint Dad has the answer. Masses on here (even a guest post from yours truly hidden away. They won Headline Money award last year and various awards in the UK Money blogger of the year awards.

LottyEarns Charlotte Burns is the current UKMB Blogger of the year,  and her blog focuses on luxury on a budget. It can be done and Charlotte provides many a tip on how.

Skintedmintedmum Charlotte and Minted mum Jane, both personal finance journalists, offer family finance tips to other mums whatever their budget. That little bit different in concept to other blogs which I like, so well worth a visit.

Thinking Thrifty David blogs about making, managing and saving money. Having recently taken the plunge and invested in his own business instead of the bank, he picked up the best new blog award at The SHOMO Awards 2016

Debt Camel Sara blogs about everything to do with debt and credit ratings. An important aspect of that is better budgeting, aiming for a small emergency fund and reducing your borrowing costs and expenses wherever possible. Sara also write a guest post on my blog Everything you need to know about Payday loans so you know she must be good!

Your Money Sorted Eileen’s blog helps UK based women to make the most of their money, through helping them to improve their money mindset. She’s got some interesting freebie guides on tips and mindset, I’m just signing up for a couple.

Reduced Grub shows people that you don’t need a huge budget to eat decent food. Lots of ideas for cheap tasty meals by Kelly here.

Mrs Mummypenny Lynn blogs about healthy wealth, body and mind. A personal journey with lots of tips etc. you may take some inspiration.

Katy Kicker Katy blogs about money saving as a parent, allotment owner and person committed to random acts of kindness. Find money saving advice on a whole host of subjects.

Savvy in Somerset Fiona writes mostly about money saving but other personal finance bits and she comes from Somerset too! (All the best people do 😉 Oh and Fiona? 8 tests I took. 8!

Money Saver Moneymaker Jenny writes a blog that encourages women to make money from home, with a focus on turning hobbies into business. Like me not able to resist a bargain and she shares her money saving finds, leaving you with more money all round to spend.

The Diary of a Frugal Family is all about Cass and her family’s journey to living a more frugal lifestyle having as much fun as possible along the way. You’ll find everything from money to meal planning and from Teen DIYs to Travel posts and you’ll find a free budget planner.

From Pennies to Pounds Francesca writes about how to save  and earn money from home to pay off debt and achieve your financial goals. Different to the many blogs like this as Francesca is newly married with a daughter and is at uni so may appeal to students out there!

The Frugal Cottage Nicola blogs about budgeting, money saving and early retirement and won the People’s Choice Award last year at the SHOMOs.

Money Tree Man with the help of his Money Tree girlfriend writes a blog about saving money to achieve financial independence, starting with buying a house! Investments etc. Whilst that may be a little different to other blogs which talk about tips, saving money etc. etc., anyone that writes “Rants and bants”, “A quick google can be the difference investment ingenuity of fiscal fucktardedry!” and “Little bitch syndrome” has got to be worth a peruse.

Much More With Less Faith is a personal finance journalist who writes about moving to the country, living on less and making the most of it. Posts focus on food, finance, family, flowers and fitness, all with a frugal spin.

Pounds and Sense Nick blogs about making money, saving money and investing money, aimed especially (though not exclusively) at over sixties

A few more on saving and making money: Time and Pence, Money Saving Girl, Emma Drew,   Thrifty Mum, I Beat Debt and Homely Economics

Not really a blog but is a site that supplies links to individual bargain items Latest Deals UK

and one of my long standing Twitter buddies who I’ve been following for yonks. Ok different to all the other finance blogs listed but it IS finance and I want to include him so there!

So a special no 26:

Banker’s Umbrella blog on private banking and wealth management

And if you’ve come here via someone tweeting this page – you can find out About Me and you can GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS! for tips, information advice, guidance, consumer rights/laws and template letters and you can find that all over the blog as well.