As Universal Credit rolls out across the country, over the coming months we will be checking in regularly with a foodbank in an area which is currently transitioning to UC to see if there is any noticeable impact on the number of families with children using their services. We will hear the first hand experiences of one of the foodbank’s members of staff.
Two stories stand out for Linda this week.
“We had a family in who had a very young baby with a life limiting illness. They’ve come from a different county for medical treatment. In theory it means they’re not looking for work so their Universal Credit has been stopped. They have no place to stay, nowhere to cook: Dad is sleeping on a friend’s floor and Mum is on floor of hospital.
“The local council wouldn’t do anything for them as it wasn’t in their jurisdiction. But the baby could be in hospital for a couple of months so we have agreed to support them with food parcels. When they return home they will need to reapply for Universal Credit which will mean further delay.”
And later on in the same week, Linda hears a parent’s concern for his two older children.
“A Dad came in on Monday, it was his first time visiting. He and his wife are not working a lot of hours so they are both on UC.
“They have two teenage boys and they are worried that the boys aren’t concentrating enough at school because they haven’t had the money to buy them enough food. The parents are eating less, but the boys are still hungry and the school have said they’ve seen the impact.”
“In situations like this we try and give extra whole milk, pasta, porridge, stuff that keeps you filled up for longer.”
So the foodbanks remain busy but stocks are becoming depleted.
“We’re now giving out more than we are taking in,” says Linda. And it is the core things that are lacking.
“People need the same stuff like long life juice or pasta or porridge. It’s the difference between people going hungry and not.”