The Mail On Sunday today published an investigation into the Trussell Trust - a charity which distributes emergency food packages to impoverished people - in which its reporter received a food package after claiming to be an unemployed father of two who was struggling to make ends meet.
The article criticised both the Trussell Trust and the Citizen’s Advice Bureau - which is also an independent charity - for failing to carry out sufficient background checks on people using its service to verify whether they were genuinely in need of emergency food supplies.
The article also used its findings to cast doubt on the Trust’s widely reported claims that almost a million people would use one of its food banks this year, an increase of 163% on the previous year, and part of a trend that has seen use of the Trust’s food banks increase almost fifteen-fold since 2010.
But after the Mail On Sunday’s report was widely criticised on social media, it seems that the attack has had a positive outcome for the charity - with the number of public donations on its JustGiving page increasing six-fold in the space of a few hours after the publication of the article.
That only represents the public donations made through that page; other donation methods which have also been promoted on social media today, such as donating by text, wouldn’t necessarily show up there.
For their part, the Trust said in a statement (given to the Mail ahead of their article) that they disapproved of the methods the paper used to get its story.
The Trussell Trust feels that these undercover methods, used by Daily Mail journalists, to enter the premises of our voluntarily run food banks is an unacceptable attempt to tarnish not only the name of the Trussell Trust, but also the valuable efforts of the 30,000 volunteers who selflessly give up their time to provide a valuable service to people in real need.
BuzzFeed has contacted the Trussell Trust for a comment on the surge in donations, and will upate this article if they respond.
Update, 5pm: the Trust tweeted this in response to the donation spike:
We’re blown away by the response to the Daily Mail article on Twitter! Over £15,000 raised for Trussell Trust’s Easter appeal #THANKYOU
Update, 12:50am, April 21: The Trussell Trust have now given BuzzFeed the following statement:
We’ve been totally overwhelmed by the generosity of so many people following the Mail on Sunday’s article. It’s been amazing to see thousands of people reacting to the article by donating to help people in crisis! What an amazing Easter gift! We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who’s given. We won’t know the total raised until our fundraising team are back in the office but we know that what we’ve already seen on JustGiving will make a big difference to lots of struggling families. Thank you so much!
Update, April 28: The Trust released a statement thanking donors, as the total level of donations approached, and then passed, £100,000:
Almost 5,000 people have donated to the Help Crack UK Hunger Justgiving page since the article, and donations to the appeal page rose from £2,000 before Sunday to over £60,000 to date.
Today The Trussell Trust says that since Sunday, donations to Help Crack UK Hunger, combined with donations to Trussell Trust’s general funds, have reached an incredible £97,673.57p. [Update: Now over £100,000] A large proportion of this amount can be attributed to reactions to the Mail on Sunday article and additional coverage.
Trussell Trust Chief Executive David McAuley says:
‘We have been moved, humbled and overwhelmed by the incredible generosity of the British public following the Mail on Sunday’s article. It’s been amazing to see thousands of people react in such a positive way, wanting to help people in crisis. I would like to thank everyone who got behind this campaign, not just for their donations, but also for the positive words of encouragement. It means a lot, and will make a big difference to lots of people who are struggling in the UK.”
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