Mum of three Alison Riggott started volunteering at S6 Food Bank in Sheffield three years ago. She tells Maryam Qaiser that benefit delays and money problems are trapping families in poverty.
When I first started volunteering I met a refugee family who had a small baby. They came to use the food bank. Three years later they were still using it – most of the time, this is down to delays in benefits being processed.
This is one of the main reasons people come to food banks – money issues, sanctions and delays in benefits.
Once there was a family who had a premature baby and the dad was working in a bar at the time, but because he was taking time off work, he was losing regular income.
Every story is different, there have been parents who come here and they are so worried because they can’t afford to buy their child a birthday present.
It always gets to me when I see an elderly person and I think to myself that could be my dad.
I think I was living in bubble before I started volunteering. I used to cry when I left the food bank.
The food bank relies on donations from people and in the last 18 months we have forged partnerships with businesses and the university which is the key for us to survive.
For something to change we need austerity to end and a change in government. Services have been cut, such as Sure Start and mental health support for young people. This means there is no early intervention and when people visit us, it is usually when they have hit rock bottom and they have nowhere else to go.
Have Your Say
Tell us about the issues affecting you.
We are retracing the journey George Orwell made in his book, The Road to Wigan Pier , to share your stories of working and unemployed poverty.
They’ll appear in a regular series in the Daily Mirror newspaper and here, on our special anniversary website .