“The foodbank was a lifesaver.” Your support is helping us to change lives.
“I was starving for about a week. I didn’t have any food and had really bad anxiety, but it came to the point where I had to ask for help from the foodbank.”
Growing up in an overcrowded house and a troubled family environment, Josh from Torfaen, South Wales, didn’t have the best start in life, and he was taken into foster care at the age of 16. After several housing changes and a relationship breakdown, Josh ended up living in a youth hostel. “Things just went downhill, but I wanted to try to sort myself out,” he admits.
Struggling to afford food, Josh eventually found the courage to ask for help he needed and was referred to his local Foodbank, where he was instantly welcomed: “I was a bit nervous and I was only 16 but when I got to the Foodbank the people were really nice. They sat down with me, we had a chat and they made me feel welcome.” He continues: “The volunteers at the Foodbank also try to sort you out with other stuff. Even if they can’t help you directly, they point you in the right direction and try to help you that little bit more.”
Josh is grateful that the Foodbank was there to help in his time of crisis: “It made me feel really good when I could get food and speak to people at the Foodbank. They’re really nice people, you don’t get many places like this.” He continues: “It’s not a nice way to be when you have no food. And it’s not just food, you’ve got to buy clothes now and then, washing powder and cleaning products. By the time you’ve bought all that and paid your bills you don’t have much left for food; you can’t live like that.”
Although it’s been difficult for Josh without family support, he is applying for work and hoping to turn his life around: “When you’re working you feel better in yourself, you feel better when you wake up, when you go to work, and after work. You meet new people and make new friends. It’s just so much better.”
Josh hopes things will continue to improve, but after all he’s been through so far he still remains apprehensive about his future: “I want a stable home and a working life but I don’t know what the future has in store. I want it to be good but only time will tell, I don’t know what’s around the next corner yet.”
“We didn’t know where our next meal was going to come from and we were really struggling.”
When Sarah’s partner recently moved in with her it should have been a happy time for them, but informing the council of this change to their circumstances resulted in a delay to their benefits, leaving them in a desperate situation.
“We are both on a low wage and we were left without any benefits for nearly two months. We found it really difficult,” explains the 35-year-old, mother-of-two.
Sarah admits that a big issue was juggling money for gas and electric, as well as for food. It was whilst they were at their local housing association discussing their struggles to pay their rent due to this benefits postponement that they were referred to their local Foodbank.
“As a parent, to not know if you’re going to be able to feed your children is shameful and degrading,” she explains. “Always knowing the Foodbank is there puts your mind at rest a bit; knowing you can go there and get support is brilliant.”
The family were glad that the Foodbank was there to support them during this difficult time. Although she had no control of the situation, Sarah felt as if she was letting her family down: “It was very worrying. It’s scary as a parent as you don’t feel as if you’re doing your job properly. Obviousl,y you want to be able to support your children in every way and that’s not possible when things like this happen.”
And her six-year-old daughter, Frankie is aware that hunger in the UK is an issue: “Every night I pray for poor people to have food because I care about them.”
Sarah certainly didn’t expect a simple change in circumstances to have such a big effect on her life. “Living together as a couple and both working, I never thought would be so difficult,” she admits. “I thought it would make our lives easier and we would be better off, but we ended up really not in a good situation at all.”
But despite their struggle so far, Sarah is holding out hope for a brighter future: “We’re worse off financially but obviously we’re better off emotionally and as a family we’re a lot happier.”