A woman who turned to food banks for help has said she is now stockpiling food ahead of Christmas to make sure she won’t have to go through the “embarrassment” of queueing up for the basics again. As the cost of living crisis hits and groceries bill soar, thousands of people turn to services such as food banks to support themselves and their families. Trussell Trust, a charity operating food banks, has had a record-breaking number of 320,000 new users across the UK over the past six months.
Sharron Spice, who lives in North London, turned to a food bank when she lost her job and was unemployed and forced to live off benefits for six months.
She told Express.co.uk: “It was just a brief spell of unemployment, but the benefits are so not enough – it’s minimal. You end up scraping by and you either pay your rent or pay your bills – can’t do both. So you need to rely on the food bank.
“I went to the one locally to me and they gave me shopping. I was grateful – but the experience leaves you a bit deflated because you can’t afford to feed yourself.”
Trussell Trust announced it provided a record number of almost 1.3 million emergency parcels from April to September this year.
The charity raised the alarm last week highlighting a “tsunami of needs” that has driven people to the charity’s doors and said it is preparing for the busiest winter yet.
During Christmas and in the winter months, Trussell Trust expects to provide more than 7,000 emergency food parcels a day, on average.
Now that she has a job, Sharron, who is in her 30s and lives alone, says she has stockpiled food ahead of Christmas to keep herself away from food poverty.
She said: “I have been stockpiling because I don’t want to return in the queue. It’s not a pleasant experience, even though the volunteers try to make you comfortable.
“You feel a little bit embarrassed and you have low self-esteem and your dignity is a little bit stripped away. You end up racking your brain and thinking ‘why am I queueing up for basic necessities?’
“The whole process of waiting for food is just a bit Dickensian – it doesn’t make sense in 2022. So I don’t want to go back and I try my hardest to work it out.”
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Among the most shocking figures announced by Trussell Trust, was that one in five people that queued up for food are in working households.
Despite their employment, they can’t afford the essentials, and food banks have had to change their opening times to give out parcels outside of work hours.
Josie Barlow, food bank manager at Bradford Foodbank in West Yorkshire said: “Someone who came to the food bank recently told me that ‘buying milk is a luxury now’.
“We have seen a huge increase in people coming in and our stock levels are very low for this time of the year.”
Sharron, who works as a youth worker, said she is being as prudent as possible with money, trying not to go out and bulk cooking to save on heating costs.
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However, she said: “I don’t know how much longer I will be able to provide for myself if the inflation goes higher, which is planned to.”
Sharron added: “It’s hard but I am in work, and I am appreciative of that. I’m more worried about those that are on Universal Credit.
“If the rates don’t increase to match inflation, it’s going to be a really bad winter for them.”
Emma Revie, chief executive at the Trussell Trust, said: “We urge the UK government to realise their commitment of supporting people on the lowest income with a broad package of support.
“As well as ensuring that benefits rise with inflation as soon as possible, this must go further to close the gap between price rises and incomes over the winter.”