Saturday, 23 February 2019

When You Need To Use A Food Bank

I have written about how I needed to use a food bank before Xmas. It was a post that was hard to write because I didn't want my friends and family to know how things had got so tough for me. But I wrote it anyway and it is now out there in my corner of the internet. Food banks used to feel shameful and embarrassing when you needed to go to one, but these days it seems they are a necessity to families and often single people to use one. We live is a first world country and poverty really shouldn't be a thing here anymore - but it is. The Trussell Trust’s foodbank network provided 658,048 emergency supplies to people in crisis between April and September 2018, a 13% increase on the same period in 2017.

What makes it worse is that it seems to be people that are working hard and trying to make ends meet on the minimum wage that the government has set and the price of stuff around us is rising. For me to get to work, it is almost an hour and a half wages, so it makes you wonder if it is worth working at all. Recently, as I watched Casualty, I saw food banks highlighted in the programme. The lady attending the food bank was an NHS worker, a nurse. Although this was a programme on the Tv, it is still true to life because even people in jobs like that cannot find the food to eat.

Food banks are there to help everyone, you need to collect a red voucher from a local agency like the children's centre, the pensioner's centre or even pharmacies. They don't judge you and don't look down at you. You then take this red voucher to somewhere that is running a food bank and they offer you a cup of tea, they have a chat with you and they offer you advice as best they can. You get three days worth of food, but you can usually make this stretch to about 5 days and then there is usually a table of short-dated food that you can help yourself to. For families in the UK, school holidays are the worst time for families financially, the kids are home all of the time and they eat you out of house and home, so families rely on food banks more and more.

Food banks are there to help people but they equally need help from people that can afford to help them. Next time you're in the supermarket, pop a little packet of something in the food bank bin because it really could help to save a family. When you go to the food bank, they make you a cup of tea and hand you a plate of biscuits. they listen to your problems and they talk to you about ways to help yourself too. The most important thing is that they listen and they offer a shoulder to lean on.

I have asked a few bloggers on their thoughts of food banks and whether they have had to use one, some wished to remain anonymous.

 ''My reason for needing to use one is I'm a single mum, to 3 kids 2 with special needs. The kid's dad doesn't provide any money for the children. And I pay off my eldest needs, he will eat everything he sees if he is anxious or stressed about any'' - Anonymous, but I can empathise with the struggle as a single parent.

Rosie from Damzel In This Dress has helped people before ''I have assisted clients like women who are in a refuge and struggling financially. Food banks are a fantastic idea but they often offer just tinned food/non-perishables. It can be really tough to cook meals that are purely from tins. Some food banks only allow you to visit three times in a certain period of time to make sure everyone gets a chance. I have mixed feelings about the ones I’ve been to. Everyone should support their local food banks. Not just with food but toiletries and even beauty products. No one would be at a food bank by choice and you never know when you might find yourself at one.''

Karen from The Madhouse Of Cats And Babies says ''I work with families and have referred them to the local food bank and taken a couple of families to our local one, and we collect for ours and I also have vouchers I can give to families for the food bank. I’d be happy to write something supportive. It’s sad they are needed but I’m very much for them if it means people have food especially for kids.''

Lindsay from Latte Lindsay says ''I've never used a food bank, but I wish I had. Over the years I have experienced severe poverty, including being homeless, but was never made aware that food banks were available or even existed. Although now I am in a better place with my money, if I needed to use them, I wouldn’t know where to start.  Although the stigma of being on benefits and having to use services like the food bank are disappearing, I think that getting access to information is now the problem. People who are suffering and need help, there is help available to them, they just don’t know how to access it.''

Helerina from Helerina Blogs shares her story ''I had to use one a few years ago. A computer error at work meant the tax office were sent double the amount I had actually earnt for the year. The wrong yearly income filtered through to the working tax credit benefits who stopped all my child benefits and started benefit fraud investigations. After a few weeks, I had absolutely no money and had to get a referral to my local food bank. It was humiliating and I felt awful I couldn’t afford to feed my daughter. The staff couldn’t have been more lovely, made me a cup of tea and listened to me cry. I had to go one more time before my situation was sorted and again they were amazing. I always donate to my local food bank every week in the supermarket now.''

If you are struggling, then find out more about food banks here, there is no shame in going to one and you will come out feeling so much better. 

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