“This shouldn’t be the way to live; it shouldn’t be that way. It’s very wrong.”
Lee from Leeds was working in the building industry, then a business venture proved unsuccessful. He lost his home, and suddenly struggled to afford food. He spoke to us at St George’s Crypt in Leeds.
In the summer of 2016 I came into financial difficulty due a business venture that went wrong. I tried to hold on to my house but within six months they took it from me – the house I had had for 15 years and worked hard for and paid for myself.
Because I had no one to turn to, no family or anything, I found myself homeless. With the help of The Crypt, I managed to stay off the street and survive; they fed me and gave me a roof, which I’m very grateful for.
It’s had a very big impact. I realised that food is a luxury really that many can’t afford so they’re relying on food banks and handouts from places like The Crypt and the churches to help them live and get by, especially people on benefits that get sanctioned or with mental health issues. I think that is a bit wrong. If they miss an appointment on a day when they should see the Job Centre, for them to be sanctioned and their money stopped I find very unfair, looking on from the side and having never seen it before.
The reduced items are a big help in the evening. At the supermarkets, after a certain time in the day, they reduce them significantly, and that’s the way I’ve tended to survive, freezing a few items that are going out of date on that day so I can eat them two or three days later. That’s a significant help but that to me shouldn’t be the way to live; it shouldn’t be that way. It’s very wrong.
They should look at not sanctioning people as much, obviously at raising the benefits to living standards to compare with the fluctuation of food so they can live, so they can survive.
I think first-hand voices, people who have experienced it first hand, speak volumes. I didn’t know this place existed until I needed it and I dare say there are thousands of people like that, pretty much blind to the facts of the situation with people homeless and relying on food handouts and hot meals like The Crypt provides. I dare say there is pretty much a naivety to the situation and the problem that we have today.