By Catherine Fee
Everyday household costs are continuing to rise, affecting the price of heating, electricity and groceries. The average food bill for a household expected to be a potential extra £271 per year according to research Kantar. They found that people, particularly working people, are becoming more reliant on food banks.
Fermanagh woman Caroline Rice, a 49-year-old classroom assistant and mum described using a food bank as a circle she couldn’t get out of. The single mum to an 11-year-old daughter said “I have always worked and still do. However, I am facing a really tough period trying to juggle increased household bills, my growing child needing new clothes and the possibility of needing to access food bank support.”
Caroline added “It’s not easy walking into a food bank and saying you need help. That’s why we need the government to treat people with dignity, because everyone should be able to put food on the table.”
Val Irvine who runs The Pantry food bank in Lisnaskea said, “The sad reality is people are being forced to use food banks that never ever would have considered it in their lifetime, and I have seen the demand for the food bank progressively moving in the direction of our working people.”
Since the food bank opened in 2013 Val explained how she has never seen a crisis like this and is expecting demand for the food bank to increase in the next couple of months. “I have seen a really rough years since the food bank opened in 2013 but this is actually progressively worse because everyone is suffering, we have never suffered this before with the stark rise in the cost of our energy and utility bills.
“I have had conversations with people and one lady said to me she went to buy a bag of coal and it was £8 for a bag, the next time she went back it was double the price at £16. And she said that she left it there.
“We have grandparents who would want to give more to their grandchildren and support them, but they can’t do it with the current crisis that we are in.
“I think this is actually going to get worse. We are only at the tip of the iceberg at the minute, people are dipping into their savings, of thinking of what things they can do without.”
Sarah Doyle a student from Lisnaskea who also uses the food bank says that people should be treated with more respect from the government. “We need money in our pockets and food on our table its simple, there can be a lot of shame using the food bank.”
Sarah also said “It’s tough walking into a food bank asking for help but it something people should not be frightened of.”