We're not all facing the same issues during Covid-19 but we're all noticing how the cost of a supermarket shop has increased. Many are struggling to get online deliveries secured for those who are shielding, the vulnerable and front line workers. Many people have been furloughed, with a 20% drop in salary, the self employed and many others have no income and are struggling to work out how they're going to feed themselves and their family with no income coming in at all. More and more people are reaching out for support.
A fellow blogger has had to ask for help from her local food bank last week, a food bank that she regularly donates to throughout the year.
Here is her story:
This week I have had one of my most horrible experiences of my life and a very low point when I asked a Church based food bank for a donation which ended up with the leader telling me he was removing me from the list.
Let me tell you my story. Not a sob story, just putting my anger into words, they say it is therapeutic.
I like a lot of people have been struggling to make ends lately. Income is down, over time is none existent, and I have been struggling to put food on my table. I don’t drink, don’t smoke, and am very good at eeking out a budget and making meals out of not a lot. I am use to living hand to mouth and it does not worry me.
But over the weekend I realised I was not going to make it to my next Universal Credit pay day and decided to reach out to a food bank. I chose the one I did as I have been in contact with this particular organisation as they run a community food shop. I had been using the shop since about October as I was off work due to a reaction to something I had eaten, I have food allergies, carry epi pens for them, which caused inflammation in my joints and left me unable to use my hands and arms and caused excruciating pain. I was not expecting it to take so long to settle but ended up off work for five months. Using that shop, where you pay a nominal fee every week, choose ten items, two from the freezer and then tins, pasta, lentils, cereals to make up the tem. Then you can take as much bread, fruit, veg, eggs, cheese, none dairy milk on top for free, this has made a massive difference to me be able to eat and utilising this food and topping it up with odds and ends from shops. I had built up quite a lot of food in the cupboards by buying this every week. When lockdown happened they decided as it is volunteer run to close the shop. I got a phone call from them at that time saying they would be running a food bank and I was just to phone any time I needed and they would arrange to get a food parcel sent out. The woman was lovely, telling me as I used the shop weekly not to hesitate at any time and I could get a parcel any time I needed one.
So on Monday I made contact with them, by email, so they would have a list of my food allergies on file. I got a phone call back from one of their handlers, had to answer a few questions, went over my food allergies again and she told me they would get food out to me. So far so good. I then got another phone call just before three to explain that as they hand out pre made meals cooked on their own premises fresh every day they could not provide me with any of these meals as it seemed l every one of them contained something I could not take. I was not surprised by this as it is quite a large list. They agreed to bring me out a few basics to do me for Monday night and would make meals for me on Tuesday and deliver them. I did suggest if they sent me some fruit and veg and meat of some sort I could cook my own, but they said that is not how they work, so I agreed to have meals sent out the next day. On Monday night I got a tub of soup, a loaf, a box of cereals, some potatoes, a bottle of diluting juice, a bottle of coke and a bag of sweets. Enough to tide me over 24 hrs.
Tuesday came and went and nothing appeared. Tuesday night we used the potatoes so we did not go hungry. So I private messaged them and asked what had happened as I had not received anything. Somebody came back to me on Wednesday and said they were having trouble sourcing products to give me and were still trying, and they hoped to get something out to me later.
I made the decision at this point that I would be better asking another food bank for help as every other food bank I have ever donated to, (never actually used one before, and it is something I
normal do regularly including every Christmas when I collect from friends, neighbours, colleagues etc ), hands out tins and packets and that would make sure I got something rather than risk getting nothing again. So I informed them, nicely, what I was going to do, as I did not want to ask another one and then the first bank turn up and me to receive food from two places that just seemed a bit immoral in my book.
This is where it went wrong. The leader than runs the organisation sent me a message. This message was tantamount to bullying, accusing me of not appreciating how hard his team works, and “it’s clear they are not working hard enough for you” That my messages make him sad, not from the point I needed to message to ask where my parcel and that they had let me down, but because I had messaged them. In my book a phone call on Tuesday to say they had not sourced anything for me would have been appreciated and that they were still trying.
He then proceeds to tell me they were removing me from their list so I can’t ask again in the future.
Next off he asks me to “ pause for a moment to encourage you to remember that you never know what anyone one else is facing” . Well sorry but as somebody that has just asked a food bank for a donation my own life has hit rock bottom and that is what his organisation is there for, not to make me feel bad that I am taking food from people who may need it more than me. Asking a food bank for a donation is something I found demoralising and embarrassing and not something I relished doing but to get this sort of reaction made me feel I am not worthy or deserving – was not expecting a church run organisation to make me feel like I don’t matter.
I then told him I was not going to grovel to him for food, they had not supplied me yesterday and may not be able to again today, I did not want to find myself repeating this all the next morning, I was going elsewhere, at which point he accuses me of making nonsense allegations….I had not made any allegations at all, just asked where my food was and then informed them not to deliver me anything as would ask somebody else.
I have to add this is not the first time I have had an issue with these same people. They were doing Christmas Hampers last year; anybody using the shop was entitled to one, so I applied for one. At this point I was waiting on my first UC payment ( my fault for not claiming earlier) and thought some extra food would be very handy. So I asked for one, and was told yes I qualified and they would add me to the list. Got a text to say it was coming out on a specific date, we waited did not turn up, messaged them and was promised it again, still nothing second time. Third time it was being sent out by a private driver, but apparently could not find my house; then fourth time still did not turn up. By now it is Christmas Eve and the leader then comes back and admits it had not been sent out as they did not think I needed it…..and that it had never been sent out……a Christian organisation that lied over sending out a parcel….without knowing anything about me or my circumstances. They relented at 11.30 pm on Christmas Eve and told me I could drive into the town and pick one up as he was still at the office. But by then I had taken pain killers, nerve block tablets and a sleeping tablet and there was no way I could safely drive. Have to wonder how this person sleeps at night.