Disability and foodbank use in the UK

Lead Research Organisation: King's College London
Department Name: Nutritional Sciences


There is growing concern about rising poverty and food insecurity among people with disabilities in the UK. Among households using foodbanks, a recent survey highlighted 50% ofrespondents had a disability. The over-representation of people with disabilities in foodbanks may be explained by recent changes in welfare entitlements and conditionality for people with disabilities, but little research has been conducted to explore this relationship. Using a mixed method approach, this project aims to explore the quantitative relationships between welfare reforms to disability benefits and foodbank use across local authorities over 2010 to 2020, complemented by in-depth focus groups with people with disabilities using foodbanks and not using foodbanks, and local area social service providers, in selected case study areas.

This project will offer unique insight into whether changes to disability entitlements have contributed to rising foodbank use over the past decade and how people with disabilities can best be supported by the social security system and into work. Knowledge exchange activities will include the preparation of a public-facing report based on project findings, workshops with foodbanks at Trussell Trust Foodbank Network conferences, and providing evidence to external stakeholders for advocacy e.g. to Work and Pensions and Health Select Committees.

Collaborating with The Trussell Trust on this project will offer important research and knowledge exchange opportunities. Access to relevant aggregated foodbank data held by the central Network will be granted. Using these data will also facilitate opportunities for the student to feed into discussions about how the Trussell Trust data system could be enhanced to provide opportunity for future research. Partnering with The Trussell Trust will also facilitate relationships with foodbanks operating in case study areas. This is critical for the qualitative component of the project.
Regular meetings with the External Affairs team will enable the student to be actively engaged in discussions about research priorities for the organisation, which will inform her work and The Trussell Trust's work. Lastly, working with The Trussell Trust on a research dissemination strategy will provide training opportunities for presenting research to diverse audiences and ensure the research findings reach its network of over 1200 distribution centres, 48,000 referral partners (e.g. local authorities, frontline social service agencies), and 40,000 volunteers.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000703/1 30/09/2017 29/09/2027
2105200 Studentship ES/P000703/1 30/09/2018 29/06/2023 Mia Hadfield-Spoor