At St Gregory’s Food Bank, we help a diverse range of people who have one thing in common – they’ve fallen on hard times. While many of us are just a few paychecks away from poverty, you might be wondering what brings people to us. Here are some of their stories.
An asylum-seeking family of four visited us when they found themselves struggling to get by on their very limited allowance. We gladly provided them with food each week. And, we took things a step further, by helping them settle into life in the UK. The father now works in a shop, and the children have settled into local schools. Partly thanks to our help, the family no longer relies on the food bank.
We also had the pleasure of helping a single man from Eastern Europe, who had served in his country’s army but was unfortunately discharged due to PTSD. After he began drinking heavily, a family member who was living in Glasgow invited him over to visit. He stayed, and went on to study catering and hospitality in college, before going on to work in Scotland for 10 years. Tragedy struck when he was involved in a road traffic accident, leaving him unable to work. Due to an issue with universal credit, he was left without benefits for a whole eight months, at which point, he reached out to us for help. Eventually, the situation with his benefits was resolved and he now volunteers with us, helping communicate with food bank users from places like Ukraine.
Another of our food bank users is a Ukrainian mother of three, whose husband is still fighting in Ukraine. She arrived in the UK via Belarus and Poland and has been housed in Glasgow. Thankfully, she’s now starting to settle in, but the food we supply is still a real lifeline for her and her family.
Recently, a single man living on universal credit of just £60 per week told us that our food bank saved his life. Despite signing up with employment agencies, he has struggled to find regular work and finds it difficult to afford food. As a diabetic, he’s been insulin-dependent since childhood, which means he needs to eat regular meals – and to make things worse, his condition is exacerbated by stress. With so little income, he was struggling to keep his diabetes under control, so we are pleased to be helping him.
Throughout the pandemic, we helped countless people who were struggling to make ends meet having been furloughed. For many of our food bank users, times were tough enough already, let alone with the added pressure of bringing home less than 100% of their salaries. Many were eventually made redundant, including one young woman who arrived having not eaten for four days, as all of her savings had gone on rent. Thankfully, we were able to help her until she found a new job.
For some of our food bank users, our help stretches beyond providing meals. Some sadly don’t have any friends or family around to help, and we’re sometimes the only people they speak to all week. We offer a chance for these marginalised people to connect with each other, too, building support networks, and even making new friends.
It’s not all plain sailing – some food bank users can be verbally aggressive, either due to alcohol, drugs, or mental health issues. Others are feeling extremely low, due to circumstances like relationship breakdowns or benefit sanctions. It’s our job to try our best to pick them back up again and show them that someone cares.
We rely on donations and volunteers to provide this essential service to our local community. If you’d like to support us, here’s how you can help.