Teesside foodbank users left ‘desperate’ by benefit sanctions
Selling their possessions online, skipping meals and cutting back on essentials. That’s the reality for people using our region’s foodbanks, according to an expert from Durham University.
Dr Kayleigh Garthwaite spent 18 months volunteering in a foodbank in Stockton-On-Tees as part of her research for her new book. ‘Hunger Pains’ looks at what it’s really like to visit a foodbank and how people end up needing assistance in the first place.
Dr Garthwaite found many of the people coming through the door of the foodbank were undergoing benefit sanctions or delays to their benefits which left them with nothing.
One woman she met at the foodbank was only four days from giving birth, but had gone without any form of income for more than three weeks.
Dr Garthwaite said: “It’s leaving people with absolutely zero income at all so then they have no choice to come to somewhere like the foodbank and ask for help. Often people are too embarrassed to actually tell their friends or family that they’re struggling, so instead they’ll come to the food bank when they’re at their lowest ebb. People would often say that they’d sold their television or their furniture or different things like that, just to raise some money.
“A lot of people would also skip meals just to get them through the day. There was a lot of evidence of that, people just cutting back where they could.
Dr Garthwaite’s book forms part of a wider study into the health inequalities in the Stockton area.