'If it wasn't for the foodbank, I don't know what I'd do. I had to choose between feeding my children and starving myself, or eating.'
That's what one mum in Bradford said to a volunteer at one of the 420 foodbanks that make up The Trussell Trust's network. Multiply that by many thousands and you have a picture of the incredibly difficult decisions families across the UK face as Christmas approaches. Last December we gave out 60,000 three-day emergency food parcels to children alone, and foodbanks are poised to help even more people this year.
This Christmas, Unite the Union has teamed up with us at The Trussell Trust and The Mirror's 'Real Britain' column to launch the 'Hope not Hunger Christmas Appeal.' The funds raised will enable support foodbanks who give families in crisis food over Christmas and offer them hope. We are extremely grateful for their support at a particularly urgent and stressful time for many families in crisis.
Foodbanks rely on the generous support of members of the public. December 2013 saw Unite launch its 'Give Our Kids A Christmas Appeal'. With an overwhelming response, foodbanks were able to give emergency food to up to 60,000 over the Christmas period. This appeal, together with The People's Toys Appeal, transformed Christmas for thousands of families.
Last December, The Trussell Trust's foodbank network provided 133,734 three day emergency food supplies to people in crisis. This was a 45% increase on the monthly average of three day emergency supplies provided in that year.
This year many families urgently need support. We frequently meet people who find themselves making tough decisions like going hungry so their children can have a hot meal, or turning off the heating so they can keep the lights on for a little longer. We want to make sure that policymakers hear from the experiences of real people on the knife-edge of poverty.
On Wednesday 7 December from 12:30-14:30 at Old Palace Yard opposite the Houses of Parliament, Unite will be running a 'pop-up foodbank'. Foodbank managers from Trussell Trust foodbanks will be attending, as well as real people who have been helped by the generosity of volunteers in foodbanks.
We hope that this will raise awareness of the circumstances many find themselves in at Christmas, and we encourage MPs and members of the public to come and show their support and donate to help our foodbank network give what we expect to be over 130,000 food supplies.
We are calling on people to show their support and help families facing hunger this Christmas in our busiest month of the year.
You can make an individual donation, securely online, by text, phone or post.
• TEXT WARM35 and your donation (eg WARM35 £5) to 70070
• Donate securely online: go to www.trusselltrust.org/HopenotHunger
• By phone on 01722 580 208 (open 09:30-16:30 Mon to Fri) or by post, send a cheque made payable to The Trussell Trust to The Trussell Trust, (Unite against cold and hunger appeal), Unit 9, Ashfield Trading Estate, Salisbury, SP2 7HL
Show your support of twitter with the hashtag #HopenotHunger.
People who will otherwise go hungry this Christmas will greatly appreciate your support.
HuffPost UK is running a fortnight-long focus around helping others this Christmas. Giving Back will shine a light on the organisations and individuals making a difference in their community, tackling issues such as loneliness, homelessness, food waste and financial struggle. We'd also love to hear your stories.
To blog for Giving Back, email firstname.lastname@example.org. To keep up to date with our features and find tips on how you can make a difference this Christmas, follow the hashtag #GivingBack.