‘It’s pure desperation’: first time food bank users face the cost of living crisis

Food bank users are in “pure desperation” when families search nearby churches and communities to help cope with sky-high costs.

That day, energy price increases took hold, struggling families said The independent the government “does not know what difficulties are” because they feel abandoned in their efforts to cope.

Chanda Grant arrived at the Redbridge food bank in north-east London 10 minutes before closing on Friday morning with her mother and two of her three children.

“This is the first time I’m using a food bank,” she said as she loaded her tram with bags of preserves.

Her mother, Caroline Grant, talked about how heavy the cost of living has been on their family.

The 50-year-old from Barnet, north London, said: “The poor people are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer.

“They are not looking for single mothers with three children. The third child gets nothing.”

Caroline Grant said that Chancellor Rishi Sunak must see how the most vulnerable in society live


Ms Grant pointed out how useful universal credit was before the end of the £ 20 increase in October last year, saying: “The £ 20 we used to get really helped with the bills and the children.

“Now it’s gone, you’re really struggling,” she added. “If you get £ 893 a month, you have to pay rent, municipal taxes, bills and everything that comes with children like childcare and food.”

The 25-year-old NHS worker has been in temporary accommodation for eight years with his three children.

“It’s awful to see my daughter go through this,” her mother said. “She worked under Covid when people died. I could have lost her.

“And look at her now, does she get any help? No, she’s coming to the food bank.”

Roheya Touray questions how she and her four-year-old daughter Ami will get through the crisis without help


Last week, the Office for Budget Responsibility revealed that the rise in inflation to a predicted 40-year high this year would trigger “the biggest drop in living standards in any single fiscal year since the ONS record began in 1956-7”.

It comes when Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced his spring statement outlining measures that would help people cope with rising living costs.

Denzil and Desiree Prospere from East London also used the food bank for the first time. They told me The independent they never thought it would be like this.

“Before, food costs £ 80 a week but now everything is increasing, it’s about £ 120 a week,” she said. “This food bank is a lifesaver. I never thought things would get to this level. Friends told us about it but we never thought we would need it,” the couple added.

Denzil and Desiree have three children, including a six-year-old who has just finished leukemia treatment, which means that Prospere has not been able to work to take care of her child.

“The government has not helped,” she said. “Food banks help more than the government.”

A Redbridge food bank volunteer compared the country’s plight to Britain after World War II when she was a child.

“I was born shortly after World War II and this country was down. I used to play in a shelter and it was tough then, she said. “Families struggled then. It was difficult for some to eat. When problems come into the world, everyone suffers. It’s similar now. But I do not know if the country had as many as now to take care of. ”

Another volunteer pointed out how Covid was a war in itself, and the effects of it had led to the desperation that people are suffering now.

The food bank used to have a flood of donations from local residents, but now the volunteers say they have seen fewer donations as more people are struggling in their own homes.

Food banks across London are taking on the burden of the crisis, as Mehmood Mirza, head of the Newham Muslim Safety Forum, said the number of users has increased over the past six weeks with more than 400 families coming each week.

Mehmood Mirza says that food banks also struggle when prices rise

(Newham Muslim Safety Forum)

“We also fight, food banks fight and rely on charities to provide us with food,” Mirza said.

He spoke of a shortage of food at the depot they use recently, which resulted in the organizers having to spend £ 600 out of their pockets to make sure the families had enough to eat.

Billy McGranaghan, who started the food bank Dad’s House in west London, said that Rishi Sunak should be ashamed of himself and warned that Britons on prepaid meters will be “killed” by sky-high energy costs.

“There’s just pure desperation among people right now,” McGranaghan said. “We’ve got more students coming in, more professionals, food banks are classless, that’s the thing.

“We even get more referrals than ever before from doctors for people who are malnourished and do not eat.”

All Saints Church hosts a regular food bank in Ilford, East London


McGranaghan urged the Chancellor to take to the streets and see the reality of human suffering, and Grant reiterated this, saying: “[Mr Sunak] do not know what difficulties are, you can only know how we feel if you go through it.

“Live my life on universal credit and then come back to me and tell me how you feel.”

The former area manager added: “Go and live on the street for a day or two and see how it feels.”

Five million households will be forced to spend at least a tenth of their budget on energy bills after the largest price increase since records began in effect on Friday.

Household bills will increase by an average of £ 693 per year for those with standard rates after Ofgem’s price cap was raised by 54 per cent.

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