I will never forget our visit to the Foodbank. After seven years of no pay-rise and an ever-growing overdraft, my husband’s only option was to find another job. And with a three month notice period, the only option was to resign as soon as possible, in order to be available when a new job came up. With eleven unsuccessful interviews, no new job in the pipeline, 18 weeks of sanctions (no benefits paid out) and, therefore, a month without any income at all, we were in dire need of help and support. My parents and my in-laws are always kind and generous and had made helped out. Generous friends had paid for basketball training for our son, new shoes for my husband for interviews, and various clothes and extras for the other two children, as well as a little gift for me. We knew that if all else failed and our mortgage payment wasn’t possible that we could stay with family.
Over the years, we have been the recipients of amazing generosity from many sources – wages from honourable employers; cars….yes, believe it or not, we have NEVER bought a car. We have been given four cars…one brand new one!! We have been given holidays to the seaside, flyers miles for a weekend in New York, an anonymous banker’s draft to cover the cost of a long weekend in Boston USA, nights out, coffee paid for, the hospitality of friends for dinner and weekends staying over, fun girlie weekends away, free Zumba sessions – you name it, we have enjoyed it, thanks to the kindness and generosity of friends and family. We have learned to graciously accept these gifts, and we have LOVED the moments when we have been able to give back and “bless” people with cakes, secret deliveries of cash in anonymous envelopes popped through people’s doors – it’s so fun, you should try it!!
BUT…when we were invited to use the Foodbank, it felt very different. I felt like we had failed. As a mum of three I had definitely had bad days. I had shouted and screamed at my kids, not listened properly at times, said yes when I should have said no, said no when I should have said yes, taken them to school on INSET Day…twice…arrived to school assembly late…all the usual “Mum Failures”…but not being able to feed them? That was a whole other thing. I was reassured by many that we hadn’t “failed”, that this stuff just happened, and I knew that people were right…but I still felt awful…foolish…like a failure. And I felt bad for feeling so bad. We had family and friends around us…but what about people who didn’t have that? What would it feel like to be alone in this tough time?
As the kind, smiley, non-judgemental men and women of the Foodbank packed our carrier bags full of biscuits, pasta, coffee, rice, cans of tuna, tomatoes and beans, cakes and chocolate, I stood and cried. I cried for two reasons…I cried because I never thought life would be this hard. And I cried with relief that in these hard times there was someone who was helping me.
This December, many parents will feel like they have failed their kids, simply by not having enough food to feed them. We don’t believe that anyone should feel like a failure. Our Charity of The Month is The Trussell Trust, who run Foodbanks all over the UK. Head over to our Making A Difference page to see how you can make a donation and help a family to know that they are loved, valued and not alone this Christmas season.