“The foodbank was a lifesaver.” Your support is helping us to change lives.
James comes into Foodbank most weeks, he’s cheery, funny, extremely helpful, good company and we always look forward to his visits. However it wasn’t always like that. I first met James on 3rd October 2014 at Montrose Foodbank which had only been open for seven and a half weeks. He had just come out of an unhappy marriage and had been out of work for 20 years. He had recently moved to Montrose and placed in temporary accommodation until a more permanent place was available where he still stays. He was very low and struggling with finances. After a visit to the CAB office to ask advice about financial matters he was referred by them to Montrose Foodbank. Once we had sorted out his bags of food we sat down with a coffee and chatted. I remember clearly our first conversation, James told me he had once worked as a chef and clearly enjoyed cooking, we chatted about food and what we liked cooking and eating, a conversation we’ve probably repeated in different ways a dozen times since. James was trying very hard to sort out the difficult situation he was in and was actively looking for jobs but until he could get one was able to get food from the Foodbank.
One Friday morning James came into Foodbank. It was a quiet morning we had no clients in and were chatting over a coffee. He was wearing a very smart gray suit as he was going for an interview as a doorman at one of the local hotels and had made every effort to look his best, he had time to spare so came in for a coffee. I was so sure he was going to get that job and was devastated to hear he’d not been successful. He shared all these experiences with us, both his highs and lows and was very appreciative of the support given to him (both moral support and food).
Then one day he dropped in to tell us that he had finally got a job working in the kitchen of a fast food outlet. We were delighted for him! We celebrated by eating cake and drinking copious amounts of coffee.
I guess I thought that was the end of our relationship with James, a great end to the story, but it really was only the beginning. James returned on his first day off with biscuits to share and has come in almost every week since.
We’ve watched him grow and change from being down and depressed, frustrated and lost to a confident, happy, helpful guy.
I asked him if he wanted to say anything about his experience at Montrose Foodbank, his reply was “they’re nothing but the best!” Right back at you James!
Our 7,000th client
Recently we fed our 7,000th client and to mark this we gave a food hamper to the family of six. They were so touched by this and the help that they had received that they wanted to share their story.
“Our children come first and some days we found it really hard to feed them and ourselves. Some days we had to virtually stop eating to feed them but knowing that we all had to eat we had to take what we felt was drastic action and ask for help. This came in the form of an Angus foodbank food parcel referral. We were unsure when we received it and we were really embarrassed at having to go to the foodbank. Our worries were unfounded, they were really friendly and helpful and the food we received was really good food with a wide variety and I have even tried some of the recipes they included in the parcel. In the parcel was also some UHT milk which we had never tried but one of my sons absolutely loved it, and I didn’t even know if he would drink it.!!
I was really surprised when Alf came and knocked on the door with this large hamper and told us that we had been the 7,000th client. We were overwhelmed by the wonderful gift and the fact that people cared enough to do something special like that for us.
How grateful we are that the foodbank was there, what a wonderful help it was for us. I am just so appreciative of Angus foodbank and would like to thank everyone who is involved in helping ordinary families like ours.”
“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.