‘I had an interview lined up just before lockdown for a shop security job, but then the shops were all closed so the interview was postponed... There was one month where I couldn't afford essentials and pay bills, so I had to turn to the Foodbank.'
Lara lives in private rented accommodation with her family. She has a husband and three children – two teenagers and a four-year-old. One of her children needed a bone marrow transplant recently and has been vulnerable during the pandemic. Both Lara and her husband have been trying to find work, and in the meantime started claiming Universal Credit – however an error with her Universal Credit meant the family were referred to Wandsworth Foodbank for emergency food.
‘I had an interview lined up just before lockdown for a shop security job, but then the shops were all closed so the interview was postponed. My eldest is at university and has a job as a waitress in a local coffee shop, but that closed during lockdown too so that income was lost too.
‘During lockdown I had many challenges – it was impossible to go to work and I missed that. I missed contact with people. I spent lots of time watching out of the windows. It was very difficult. It was so hot inside and there was no fresh air. But I was cleaning at home, I played music and tried to be positive. My 4-year-old son is very active so it was very difficult for him not to be able to play outside, but we managed.
‘There was a delay with my Universal Credit payment and a miscalculation, which meant I didn’t get enough money in time. There was one month where I couldn’t afford essentials and pay bills, so I had to turn to the Foodbank. Their Foodbank Advice Project was so helpful: they advised me about the Universal Credit error and suggested that I go to Wandsworth Council and receive a Discretionary Housing Payment to help towards the rent. I received some money from the Council and without that I would have been in real trouble. Foodbank has helped us so much.
‘My mental health is good at the moment because the problems are sorted, but I was very, very stressed when we had the money troubles. I have no family to turn to for support.
‘I would rate the service at the Foodbank as excellent. They were so kind and the food was very good. I had everything I needed. Any food is good food and it meant that I was able to cook meals for the family. And they brought tea and coffee which is very important to me! They delivered everything to the door. It was fantastic.’