Reality of the hardship that drives people to food banks

David Shaw  of the Basics Foodbank.
David Shaw of the Basics Foodbank.

Basics Food Bank manager David Shaw has this week spoken frankly about the desperate plight of the people he sees on a daily basis.

He says he has been compelled to spell out the facts because of a persistent perception that those who use the service are mainly caught in the grip of gambling, drugs, or other addictions.

In fact, he insists, “nothing could be farther from the truth” – even although some referrals to Basics are made for these or similar reasons.

Far more, he makes clear, are people who have been left with impossible choices over food or other expenses through no fault of their own.

He said: “Last week we invited a family back for a second week’s food parcel.

“The dad was now unemployed, the future was pretty bleak.

“Today we got news that he has started full time employment, but they are still in crisis because he will not be paid till end of June.”

The mum of the family came to get food, but had to walk miles to get to the foodbank and was delayed – so he waited to make sure she could be helped, and later gave her a run home too,

He said: “Going the extra mile (or miles in this case) can make the difference for that one person/couple/family and maybe ignite a sense of hope that things will get better and good news does exist.”

Meanwhile this week he heard that a man who has had no benefits since late last year was told that the DWP think he is actually working.

He said: “The reason given was they couldn’t understand how he has been coping with no income.”

Another local man who uses Basics said: “I am grateful for all the help I get. If i didnt have this, I would be in so much trouble, hungry and cold.

“Not young any more – getting old. Trying to get a job, anything will do – it will be better than going through this month to month.”

Mr Shaw said: “Crisis for those we engage with takes many shapes and forms. For the vast majority, they didn’t cause it. “

He gives another example: “Spare a thought for this man who was referred to us. He had his car stolen, eventually found but written off. He then loses his employment because he could’nt get there.

“Yesterday he started his Universal Claim and all that entails for him.

“One day working - the next his landscape is totally different”.

He has high praise for local people of all ages and from all backgrounds who, week after week, help to make the vital difference for the many caught in the poverty trap who have literally nowhere else to turn to.

“We collected a tremendrous collection from the NQ Accounts students in New College Lanarkshire, Motherwell Campus,” he said of another donation this week.

“They contacted ourselves a few weeks ago with the suggestion, and we are so delighted they did.

“Thankuou to everybody who contributed to the 119kg of Non-Perishable Food /Toiletries we received.

“Doing things for others without getting anything in return is priceless.

“It figures that these students will go far with this attitude.”

The Motherwell food bank (there are four in North Lanarkshire) is based in the Maranatha Centre in Glencairn Street.