Part of the Trussell Trust Network of Foodbanks, West Cheshire Foodbank has only been open since November 2012 and we?ve already given out enough food to feed over 5000 people for three days, a third of whom were children.
Emergency Food Provision at West Cheshire Foodbank Nov 12 to Jan 14
People visit us for all sorts of reasons. Over the holidays, more parents will visit because they can?t afford the additional cost of giving their kids lunch. Others will visit because they?ve fled a situation of domestic violence. 10% of people visit with a crisis related to debt. 16% visit because their income is too low to afford food, fuel and rent. The most common reason however (56%), is a failure in social security provision caused by changes to or delays in benefit payments.
One of our volunteers commented recently that since they had started volunteering at Foodbank and had heard people?s stories, they had started to see the community they lived in differently. Listening to people who have visited our Foodbank can be an eye-opening privilege.
Mike visited us because of benefit delays. It usually takes four to five weeks simply to process a claim:
“I came here today because I needed some help to obtain food for me and my partner. The reason for this is that the dole have not as yet sorted my new claim for ESA. I am very grateful for the help and the service that has been provided and given to me here today. Very relaxing and calm atmosphere too. Nice place to be.”
Neil shared how he felt about the benefit change that had affected him:
“Briefly, ten years ago I sacrificed a good job to go on Carer’s Allowance and lived at home with my mother in order to keep her out of a care home. Sadly, she passed away 2 years ago. I fortunately gained tenancy of her Council house but am now unable to find a good job due to my disabilities (monocular vision, arthritis, depression) and have been subsequently burdened by the bedroom tax. Having saved the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of pounds in care bills I feel it is an injustice to be punished with the bedroom tax which is basically a tax on poverty. Taxes should be progressive and not penalise the most vulnerable people in society”.
Martin had his benefits sanctioned when, as a result of his mental health, he could not meet the requirements of the Jobcentre:
“After a split with a long-term partner some months ago I found myself having to deal with a lot of personal issues and sought help via counselling. My life was rearranged and I had to find somewhere else to live whilst dealing with the emotional baggage from such an event as well as a number of issues from my childhood experience. When my counselling sessions ended my personal situation deteriorated rapidly culminating in my failure to deal with regular day to day chores. This led to my benefits being stopped and I found myself in need of basic sustenance which West Cheshire Foodbank have happily helped me out with. One very grateful peep.”
Karen visited because her family is struggling on a low income:
?I have come to the Foodbank today as I am struggling to keep my family?s head above water, even though I work full time. My husband lost his job and I have two kids, so my wage has gone on bills. The job centre informed us they couldn?t help as I worked more than 24 hours per week, without even asking what my salary was, also my son who is in part time college is not entitled to anything so I am supporting the four of us.?
Every person who visits us has the opportunity to share their story. Joe was sanctioned because he didn?t look for work on Christmas and New Years Day. Stuart had a nervous breakdown and simply doesn?t receive enough through Employment and Support Allowance to live on. Jessica?s husband is ill, and their child tax credits have stopped. Carol visited after her husband Trevor had a stroke. You can read more of what people are sharing on our blog. Visit www.westcheshire.blogspot.co.uk.
Signing up to the End Hunger Fast is exciting. It?s about being part of a movement of people across the UK who are motivated by their love for others and their understanding of present-day injustice. Rarely have faith leaders, academics and charity workers spoken so unanimously to condemn the actions of government. Join in. Sign up.
You can also follow us on Twitter @WestCheshireFB and on Facebook and LinkedIn.
Notes: Some names have been changed. Please see our blog for more information ?about the stories that we share?. Media enquiries please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.