Client Stories

Some of our clients will use us a handful of times to help them through a difficult period. Others will use us sporadically, maybe coming once or twice every few months when they’re not able to cope in the short term. There are some however, who rely on the foodbank far more, and without the support from ourselves and others, would struggle on a daily basis.

Below are a few biographies of real foodbank clients, their details, however have been changed for confidentiality.

My name is John and I am married to Mary.  I retired last year but had been unable to work as a builder for several months beforehand due to an accident leaving me with a bad back that has not healed.  Mary suffers from depression and anxiety and cannot work either.  We were referred to the Foodbank when our doctor saw us one day and realised that we were living on nothing.  For the past few months we have often not had any money to pay the electricity so we have used candles for light and warmth.  From going to the Foodbank we have been able to survive and they have referred us to Exeter Community Energy who have helped us with electricity savings and some replacement appliances – heaters, kettle etc.  They also referred us to Wiser Money an organisation who have helped us sort out our finances and debt repayments.  Now I get my retirement pension and Mary gets Universal Credit but things are still tough.

My name is Tessa and I have a 7-year-old and a baby.  I had to use the foodbank a few years ago but have coped until recently on my own, managing my money well enough.  Last month my cooker broke and then my TV went.  With children a cooker is so important to give them good meals. I spent my normal benefit payment on a second hand cooker and TV, but this ended me up in debt again and no money left for food for the children.  It was then that I rang the foodbank again and had to ask for support.

My name is Aaron and I am in my 40s.  I have several health conditions including very poor mental health.  Last year I contemplated suicide several times as things had got so bad. The Foodbank and the extra support I have received have been a lifeline and I am now beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel.  I have been helped to stand up for myself and push for a Work Capability Assessment which decided that my poor health really was severe. This means I no longer need to go to the job centre every week or look for work which was very stressful.  The bus fare to Exeter is £5.20 and when you don’t have much money this is a lot.  To get to the council offices in Tiverton to sort anything out with rents or council tax, is about £13 so if you have nothing that is a lot to find. I am now getting extra benefit which mean I do not have to look for extra work which was hard for me to do and so demoralizing when I kept being turned down. I am beginning to pay back my debts little by little and no longer need to use the foodbank.

My name is Julie and I am 20. I have been unable to find work and so have had to apply for Universal Credit, however there is a 5 week wait until I receive any money.  During this time, I have absolutely nothing coming into my bank account and no savings.  We couldn’t survive without the Foodbank.  The Job Centre have said that I can apply for an advance on my money, but then I have to pay it back each month from the amount they have given me.  This is the amount they decided I needed to live on, but are then planning on taking some of it away – it doesn’t make sense and making ends-meet is a real struggle.

My name is Mike and I am a carpenter by trade.  Unfortunately, I had an accident at work and I have been unable to work for several weeks and as I am self-employed, I do not get any sick benefit. Petrol is so expensive and living out in rural Devon a priority is to put petrol in my van so that the family can access the school, shops, doctors etc.  But I have been forced to come to the foodbank to enable me to live and to put food on the table for my family.