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One change can force families to foodbanks

  • 18/05/2015
  • Author:alissasteiner

A guest article by our friends at The Trussell Trust.

Time and time again, the people at the foodbank tell us how one change can throw a family already living on a financial knife edge into crisis. 

“I like to deal with my own problems and provide for my family, you know what I mean? I don’t expect people to bring me ten carrier bags full of food...”

This is what Jason, a father of three told us. His household income had dropped suddenly when the company he worked for unexpectedly lost its council contract. Although his local authority was required to find him alternative employment, at the time of the interview he had been left without an income for six weeks.

His low income had been ‘just enough to get by on’ for a family with three children, but when an emergency hit he had no financial buffer to cushion his family. It is often just one change that tips people over the edge. ‘Life shocks’ force families to the foodbank door; this was confirmed by the findings of ‘Emergency Use Only’ – a report by Trussell Trust, Oxfam, Church of England and CPAG which showed that the ‘immediate income crisis which precipitated food bank use was often outside of an individual’s control – rather it resulted from a failure of income which they did not instigate, or the effects of which they were unable to reverse’.

Jason is far from alone. In foodbanks across the UK, people are telling our volunteers the reasons that have left them unable to afford food. These range from an unexpected bill, problems with welfare, or an insecure job, through to family breakdown and bereavement. These are real people’s lives. Each situation is different, but the one unifying factor is that a ‘life shock’ outside of their control has thrown the family’s finances into turmoil; and when there is no cushion to fall back on, parents have to skip meals, and children go to school without breakfast.

We heard recently about a couple who drink stock cubes with hot water for dinner four times a week so that their kids can eat. 

This simply should not be happening in the UK today.

Charities like The Trussell Trust and Turn2us are doing all we can to ensure that when a family is thrown into crisis there is support available; one change should not leave parents skipping meals. Everyone who comes to a Trussell Trust foodbank is greeted with a cup of tea and sits down with a volunteer trained to signpost them to appropriate local organisations that can help resolve the reason for their referral. Over 90% of our foodbanks offer services alongside food, such as financial and welfare advice, to help people at the immediate moment of crisis and ensure they are given the right support to help them break out of their situation. 

Please join us as we work together to help those dealing with the brutal reality one change can make on their lives. Thank you. 

Please visit The Trussell Trust’s website for more information. 

If you are struggling, you can also find benefits and grants by using the Turn2us Benefits Calculator and Grants Search now.

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