A VOLUNTEER driver for Worcester Foodbank says more people in work are becoming dependent on emergency food due to their low income not covering the inflated cost of essentials.
Jill Desayrah has decided to share her experiences of working on the foodbank frontline in Worcester, after growing increasingly concerned at the impact food poverty is having on people’s lives.
Her concerns come against the backdrop of a huge rise in referrals to the charity, as households struggle to afford the cost of food, utilities and rent.
Referrals rose by more than 60 per cent in July alone – compared to the same month last year – and the charity is feeding, on average, around 1,400 people a month.
Jill has been delivering food parcels to clients’ homes in the city and surrounding villages for the past two years alongside her husband Sunil.
She said there was still some misunderstanding about why people turned to foodbank for help and the extent of the crisis these households faced.
“Many people foodbank is now supporting are in work but on very low incomes and this – combined with increased energy and housing bills – has deepened the crisis,” Jill said.
“One person told me they were working 16 hours a week and their wages were supplemented by government tax credits but they were really struggling with debt.
“They expected to be better off once they were in work but they are not. Every month their income is swallowed up without reducing what they owe and they now can’t afford their gas and electricity bills, meaning they have to rely on the support of foodbank. This is not uncommon.”
Jill added that many of the people she had delivered food to were experiencing a broad range of physical and mental health issues. These clients included victims of domestic abuse and former servicemen and women suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Sadly there is still some misunderstanding around who foodbank supports and people occasionally say to me ‘isn’t this just people trying to get free stuff?’
“The people I meet are not scroungers who mismanage their money. They are just people who don’t have enough money to afford the basics. At one drop off a lady gave me a tearful hug and said ‘this is all I have to give back’.”
One former client Lynsey, who has been delivered food by Jill and suffers with a range of health difficulties, said:
“Without foodbank I would have had nothing to eat back during Easter. I think Jill and the foodbank team do a fantastic job and I’m very proud of what they do for everyone.”
As well as providing food and other household essentials, foodbank also supplies recipes to clients to help them make the most of the items and ingredients in their parcels.
Foodbank remains urgently in need of donations and its latest shopping list can be found at www.worcester.foodbank.org.uk