Q. Have you ever used a food bank?
Q. What would have helped you avoid using one?
Years ago when I was a teacher I used to give food into my local foodbank at Asda in Rochdale. I never knew much about food banks then. When I moved back home to Belfast pregnant and optimistic about getting a teaching post here that was not the case and I became homeless. For a long time I paid for the privilege of being in a hostel as I was still on maternity leave. I then was catapulted onto benefits. I availed of the food bank service a few times but since going onto Universal Credit and during the pandemic I've had to lean on that service more. One of the food banks local to me provide fresh food which is lovely, such as fruit, veg and meat and that has been really helpful. Today our local family hub asked would I like some fresh milk and bread and some potatoes. I was thrilled. Although it can feel demeaning and demoralising from the government being in a position where I need to link in with food banks there is also a massive sense of community and a willingness to help. If I have surplus items I give to others, my neighbours and friends and again its a sense of community. Covid stole a lot of things but it cannot steal togetherness.