We’ve gathered some stories from around our Network from those affected by the cost of living crisis this winter.

CSAN would like to thank all of those who have generously contributed to this.

A school chaplain in London:

‘We call them seagulls. Children wait around in the canteen, they go through the motions of attending lunch, but don’t have money or food for lunch. They wait around until the end and then take other pupils’ leftovers. We keep an eye out for pupils that are sharing food, then try to help them to access Free School Meals, but this takes time.’

An example from one foodbank in Shrewsbury:

‘One staff member told us that demand is extremely high, higher than during Covid. Within 12 months, the Foodbank have witnessed an increase of 80 more people a day coming in to get food parcels. As the supermarkets have stopped the ‘buy one, get one free’ offers, people are no longer buying one for themselves and putting the other one in the supermarket box towards the Foodbank. The Foodbank is therefore getting fewer donations, so they are subsidizing the food – and the parcels are now smaller.’

A parish in Leeds:

‘The volunteers of a food market connected to a parish in the Diocese of Leeds have felt strongly about wanting to support their local community but lament its necessity in 21st century Britain. Whilst numbers of customers have grown and the reach becoming increasingly varied, the difference the food market makes has been unmistakable. One young man, who comes with his partner and one of their three little boys, said: “We’re embarrassed about having to use the market, but if it wasn’t here, some weeks we’d be screwed and wouldn’t be able to afford to eat”. An older lady admitted, “I never thought it would come to this. Two years ago, we were living well on our pension and now we’re really struggling. This really helps”. Another older lady who has introduced her daughter and granddaughter to the market was really keen to report, “Because of you and the stall I can pay my energy bills and still eat”’.

Stories from St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP):

Names have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.

‘Joe was referred by a probation officer to one of our support centres after they stated that his temporary accommodation was unsuitable for his needs as he could not be left alone due to temporary care needs. This was due to a recent road traffic accident he had in which he was hit by a car while he was cycling. This accident had put him in hospital and left him with severe injuries. As a result, he also began self-medicating with alcohol. The SVP helped Joe with a listening year and a safe space to get back on his feet, as well as support by helping find a suitable accommodation that could cater to his needs.’

‘Sarah, a young woman was referred to the one of our Support centres by the local Authority. She recently had a baby who was at the time two months old and recently separated from her partner, leaving her the sole carer for her child. Sarah had been living in supported housing for single mothers, but had recently faced eviction due to rent arrears, which were compounded by the cost-of-living crisis. When she came to the SVP, she was very nervous and needed support to ensure that she had a roof over hers and her baby’s head. The SVP contacted the local council to ensure she would be housed. Thanks to their persistent advocacy efforts, the council accommodated Sarah in a local support living accommodation. She continues to rely on the centre for food support.’