Blogging has brought many great experiences into my life. Many that money can buy and very few that no amount in the world can pay for. Yesterday’s experience was the latter. As per usual, I dragged Amelia along to a trip in the city. This time it was to visit the Oxfam HQ to find out more about their new partnership with Unilever for Project Sunlight. The partnership which also inlcudes Trussell Trust and FareShare is providing thousands of people around the UK with access to emergency food support through distribution of surplus food and food banks.
Having previously blogged about Trussell Trust and Tesco’s neighbourhood Food Collection, I still went into today not knowing what to expect. I have never had to use a food bank. But this is life, You never know what will happen tomorow. I spent the day with two other amazing bloggers who like me were not sure what to expect. However, one has had to visit a food bank for help when push came to shove and the other was on the verge of needing to go to one. Let me just say it now if you looked at both ladies you wouldn’t be able to tell. As a blogger,there is a certain level of perfection expected from readers. I guess that comes down to the whole something to aspire to that I blogger about early last year ( Read here ). But really and truly, you never know what is going on behind closed doors. I digress.
The day began with us meeting Rachel Orr, Oxfam’s Head of UK Poverty programme.. She went into great detail about how Oxfam came to be involved with Trussell Trust and Unilever. She explained why there is a rise in the amount of people using food bank. Many find it hard to the believe that there is food porverty in the UK with it being the sixth richest country in the world and considering over 11,000 tonnes of food is thrown away daily. But this is the reality and changes need to be made.
The first part of the morning really didn’t prepare me for what happened in the afternoon. Honestly. I am not even sure how to put it in words. We met a lady who brought us to tears. No, not tears in our eyes but actual blubbering. She explained how she ended up at the food bank that day. She talked about her four children who all sounded amazing despite their unfortunate situation. She is unable to work or receive benefits and for the past year has been relying on help from her children’s school. Something she said resonates ” I came here not knowing if they will give me food or not but I had to have hope” Those words. The fact that if she hadn’t been given anything at the Brent Cross Food Bank, herself and her four children would have nothing to eat. Again. I can’t even phantom how she copes. upon my return home I began reading other food banks stories here and it really saddened me.
Something I witnessed at the Brent Foodbank was truly astonishing. A local shop owner brought in boxes of crisps to donate. I was told by the Project Manager at the Food Bank that this is a regular occurrence with this man. When ever he orders for his shop, he gets extra for the food bank. He was not the only one who brought food in that day too. The atmosphere was definitely not what I expected. People were jovial. As each person arrived they were greeted with a friendly smile, offered cup of teas and a listening ear. There is a stigma attached to those who find themselves in the unfortunate position to use a food bank but from what I saw yesterday it need not be. A huge chunk of the people who use foodbanks are due to benefits delay. You can find your nearest food bank by clicking here and if you want to find out how it works then click here.
Each person’s situation is assessed to find how much food they will need. So a single person will obviously need less than a family of three or a single parent with 4 kids. The food bank has a chart that they follow when providing food. Using this chart, they provide food that will last up to three meals a day for three days.
Unilever and Oxfam through their tpartners Trussell Trust and FareShare are providing half a million meals to hungry families, in addition to the 2 million already given. You can find out more about the project here