Couple forced to borrow soup to feed 18-month-old daughter
When temperatures plummeted in January 2010 foodbank clients across the UK were forced to choose between eating and heating. For Anne-Marie and Danny, 22, a delay in benefits hit at the same time as Danny was off work with flu. He received no sick pay and finances got so tight that they were faced with eviction as well as having no money for food.
The couple and their 18-month-old daughter, Tia, were living and sleeping in one room to reduce heating bills. They resorted to borrowing a tin of soup from their neighbours to stop little Tia going hungry. When the foodbank delivered an emergency foodbox to the delighted family there was ice on the inside of their windows.
‘I don’t know what we would have done next if it wasn’t for the foodbank’, says Danny. December and January often see foodbank client numbers increase across the UK as people struggle with additional costs of heating and Christmas.
Skipping school to avoid embarrassment of no lunch money
A primary school boy from Gloucester stopped attending school recently because he could not face the embarrassment of having no money for lunch. On visiting his home to deliver a foodbank parcel, the school’s liaison officer discovered there was no food, except a little oats and milk. The mother’s purse was empty. The mother of two explained that her husband had left her and that the benefits were in his name. He had not been contributing towards child care since leaving and when she informed the Benefits Agency all benefits were stopped, including child benefit, because of her ‘change in circumstances’. The support worker estimated that it would take two to four months for the benefits to be re-assessed.
Officially, additional benefits like free school meals are not available to children unless parents can prove that they are in receipt of benefits. Fortunately, the foodbank was able to step in to help, enabling the boy to return to school.
Benefit delay and benefit re-assessment cause people across the UK to go hungry. Almost 40% of foodbank clients last year experienced benefit delay.