A lot has been said in recent days about the benefit system and food banks. It amazes me how many people, both employed and unemployed, use the food banks to be honest.

I will admit now that I’ve used the food bank where I live several times. It would probably be best if I explain one of those times in this article.

In 2009 I moved into temporary housing following homelessness. The studio flat was basic but had a kitchen and bathroom, a fridge and cooker were provided. There were no curtains or bed or anything really.

I was kindly given a bed and a few other bits by a charity but I still needed curtains plus other bits. I was just receiving Incapacity back then so had to get stuff using it. The things I needed were vital for not only privacy but to cook meals.

Inevitably it meant food money was non-existent. I had a support worker at the council and she referred me to a local church run charity. They could help me with some food to see me through. I was given 3 days worth of food and a bus pass to get me home as the bags were heavy.

I was wary of the fact I had a week until I would receive money again so I spread the food out. The food is donated by customers at a nearby supermarket. There was pasta, pasta sauces, frozen mince, stew, soup, bread, margarine, UHT milk, tea, hot chocolate, fruit juice, cereal and biscuits. I was also given some rather lovely ham. I didn’t go hungry.

If I hadn’t had the food parcel I wouldn’t have been able to take steroids for Crohns as well as other vital medications. Without these medications I would definitely have been admitted to hospital.

So next time someone complains about food banks being used please refer them to me, I will gladly correct their thoughts! I will tell them that without the food bank’s help I would have been rather poorly. Not everyone can get a crisis loan from the Jobcentre now, more so now than ever as you are only allowed 3 in one calendar year for all intents and purposes.

Anyway, I shall leave you with this thought. There’s a story behind each food bank referral, don’t assume until you’ve heard it!

Take care x

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