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“The people at the foodbank were wonderful, they understood and saved us.”
Having always worked and never claimed benefits, Holly, 29, from Chichester was bringing up her four-year-old daughter Phoebe alone. She was determined to give her the best possible start in life, but when Phoebe suddenly fell ill, Holly was forced to turn to a foodbank for help.
The council flat that Holly was living in was in a deprived area with drug dealing and dog fouling taking place in the corridor outside her door. Holly was adamant that her daughter should have a better environment to grow up in and was offered alternative accommodation near her parents – but at double the cost. As well as borrowing money from her parents to meet the cost, Holly was working part time. At the same time she had been selling second-hand clothes online and the shop she was working in noticed its success and offered her a space selling clothes in their shop.
Under normal circumstances Holly could just about scrape by, but when her daughter became poorly and had to spend three weeks in hospital, she was forced to close the shop temporarily. When Phoebe recovered, they returned home to empty kitchen cupboards, bills racking up and no income to support them.
Holly felt unable to ask her family for help again and after discussions with the local Citizens Advice Bureau she was referred to the foodbank.
Holly said: “The people at the foodbank were wonderful, they understood and saved us.”
Although Holly’s situation is still precarious, knowing the foodbank is there in an emergency is a huge weight off her shoulders.
“Without the foodbank, I don’t think I would be here today.”
Having worked in the police force for six years, followed by 12-years in the Royal Military Police, Richard, 49, from New Milton, had always considered himself fit and healthy. However, this all changed when a chest infection quickly developed into a heart condition and he suffered from two major strokes followed by 19 mini strokes, leaving him unable to work.
Richard’s situation deteriorated further when he separated from his wife and moved out of their family home, where, unfortunately due to this change of address his Employment Support Allowance (ESA) was delayed. As a result of his serious heart condition Richard needs 35 tablets a day, but the cost of travelling to collect his prescriptions left him without enough money for food, and his local Citizens Advice Bureau referred him to the foodbank.
Although Richard admits he never expected to be in this situation, on arrival he was put at ease straight away. “The volunteers were fantastic, offering a chat and a shoulder to cry on. I suffer from depression as well and without the foodbank I don’t think I would be here today,” he said.
Richard looks forward to seeing his 10-year-old daughter every weekend but admits he has skipped meals on a few occasions so she can eat. He explains: “It’s a really bad situation that people have to decide whether they can feed themselves, feed their children or put the heating on. It’s a case of having to budget or having to go without.”
At the moment things are still tough for Richard, he’s on the waiting list for a heart transplant and will be on medication for the rest of his life, but he’s grateful that the foodbank is available if he ever needs some extra help.