WEST Cheshire foodbank are urging the public to educate themselves in understanding and reducing the use of food banks around the UK.
With the number of people relying on foodbanks increasing over the past decade substantially, charities such as Oxfam and The Church of England are encouraging us to realise that they are available to the public for emergency use only.
In a report published online, authors Jane Perry, Martin Williams, Tom Sefton and Moussa Haddad hope to enlighten the UK with regards to the proper use of food banks and how we can reduce the need for them in the near future.
The report states that people accepting help from foodbanks was often considered “as being ‘unnatural’, ‘embarrassing’ and ‘shameful’”.
The main reasons for members of the public turning to such measures were found to be financial, with the main crisis being linked to the operation of the benefits system.
The report shows interviews with a few members of the public who are currently relying, or have had experience relying on, foodbanks.
Kath, a mother of three tells her story, revealing the reasons she had to depend on such charities when her benefits where cut leaving them without the resources to afford every day necessities.
Becoming a full-time carer for her 14 year old son meant giving up work, therefore Child Tax Credits became the income that allowed the family to survive through these difficult times.
However, when these bills where cut it took over eight weeks for the family to find any kind of support, with Kath stating: “when our money was cut, there was no compassion, no support”.
She said in the report: “I thought the system would protect me.
I never thought I would be completely ignored. I feel I was let down hugely. My benefits are my safety net – if they’re removed, how are families like ours meant to survive?”
Alfie McDonald, aged 29 has a similar story revealing that when he was diagnosed with depression last year and was forced to leave work, he was left to fend for himself with regards to any sort of income.
McDonald said: “I tried to get in touch with jobseekers to apply for the allowance but this took over eight weeks to be processed, meaning that it was rely on a foodbank or starve to death”.
Although the benefit system is described as the main ‘income shock’ to contribute to the use of food banks, other factors such as loss of employment or changes in family circumstances have to be taken into consideration along with this as a main contributing factor.
The report goes on to explain in depth how members of the public relying on benefits to help them survive can make sure that they have a backup plan in case any unforeseen circumstances may arise.