“I don’t know how they expect me to get by with no money”
We visited the Parson Cross Initiative at Mount Tabor Church in Sheffield one Friday morning, and spoke to eight people who have had cause to use the centre’s food bank. Here, one man who asked not to be named tells of his experience of Universal Credit.
I have angina and a heart murmur and I registered for Universal Credit almost five months ago and have not yet had anything. I’ve had no money for four and a half months, I’ve just been relying on friends. I owe my landlord £1,200 and I’ve explained to him and I’m lucky he is understanding.
I was on sick pay but they threw me off that and told me to go on Universal Credit. My solicitor has sorted it out with the court and I should get my first payment now in two weeks.
If it was not for my landlord being supportive and not telling me to get out, and if it was not for this place, then I would probably be in hospital by now. I’ve been coming here about three and a half months, as I got a referral from the council. Usually you can only get three referrals a year but they put a note on saying I was waiting for my Universal Credit to be sorted.
Friends are helping me out a bit but if it was not for this place I would be in hospital because I would not be eating. I don’t know how they expect me to get by with no money.
The bigger picture
The man above is not alone in having to turn to a food bank when his benefits went wrong. Research shows that benefit delays or problems are the principal reason for people needing to use emergency food providers.
The benefits freeze will exacerbate difficulties for many people. Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation last year projected that the freeze would mean an extra 500,000 people being swept into poverty by 2020, but identified alternative Government actions that could protect families from that rising tide.
The interviewee above was one of eight people we spoke to on a recent visit to the Parson Cross Initiative, which works with community groups and churches in its part of Sheffield to help meet local needs. The project grew from, and is based at, Mount Tabor Methodist Church. You can read the others here:
We believe in a just society where everyone has access to good food and nobody need go to bed hungry. The End Hunger UK campaign, which we are working on, sets out nine potential Government policies, all of which would help to reduce hunger and poverty, all of which are based on the real experiences of people with personal experience of hunger. Please take a few moments to look at those nine ideas, to contact local groups working to alleviate poverty in your area, and to speak to your MP to ask them to help end hunger.