A DAY IN THE LIFE...

Join one of our users and see their photo diary of visiting the foodbank, the meals they prepared after receiving a package and hear about aspects of their daily life and experiences through excerpts from our recorded interview.

Part I 
"Finding out about foodbanks was very, very surprising."

Like most people who receive help from a foodbank, our photographer and interviewee had little knowledge of how widespread charities like ours were until they were in a crisis and accessed. our support.

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Finding out about foodbanks was very, very surprising. Before I don’t notice. It was when I started having this problem that I’m aware of foodbanks. 

My first experience is the foodbank. But with the little that I’ve been having from the foodbank . . . once you are going to be able to eat you are going to have good health.

Before, the only [foodbanks] I heard about was charity in churches. I don’t know if they have ones like this everywhere. It's only when I started having this problem that I’m seeing a lot.

This is what I got from Manchester Central Foodbank – this I how I got it.

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The social worker was showing me a lot, ‘There is this, there is that,’ she even mentioned that there’s one around here . . . All the charity I have been seeing, they are good. You can see, for example, when I first came down here [to the foodbank] . . . how you treated me, that’s what makes me be still coming down here.

I could remember that very day you were standing here, holding those leaflets and you sat there and we started discussing, very helpful . . . I get lucky meeting you people.

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[At the foodbank] before covid 19, believe me, I would have coffee and hot chocolate and make my own cappuccino - very interesting, I enjoyed it!

You can see this package here is more than the one during Covid-19. This is the one before Covid-19."

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Part II 
"It's important items I’ll buy - the ones that I need."

Foodbank parcels not only provide vital, nutritional food support to those in crisis, they also mean that very tight finances can be used to provide supplementary essentials and to prioritise good quality food that would otherwise not be affordable. In this case, cooking equipment and fresh fish.

"The equipment were there but the pots . . .  I’m able to buy one for £2. So I bought that because it's something that I'm going to need. I washed it and used it to cook 500g Sainsbury rice. That’s what I did.

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This one is also jollof rice [above], but different. It depends when I don’t have enough rice so the sauce is more than rice, that’s why it’s like that. You can see how the sauce shows very well on it.

It’s the same recipe, it’s that maybe when I use the 1kg rice, its different from 500g so at times, maybe I use two bottle of pasta sauce, so it’s going to make it more red, more than the rice so that’s why it’s like that.

This is pasta sauce [below]. I cook it with the egg, with the fish, the soup, the pasta sauce. . . all the ingredients used they are all from the foodbank, apart from the fresh fish, which I bought. It's important items I’ll buy - the ones that I need.

If I cook it like this, you put it inside the fridge. [If] you cook the jollof rice and you feel like eating fish? We just take one fish and put it on top. With this fish, you can put in a bowl, or on a plate with bread."

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Part III 
"My four flatmates, they love it!"

At the foodbank we were so pleased to see these “before and after” and “action” photos showing ingredients provided by our donors being prepared and cooked by someone who had received a foodbank parcel.

Hearing about what it means to be able to cook a dish or meal that you enjoy, to be able to enjoy food with friends and family has really brought home for us the importance of food, not just for our physical wellbeing, but as an essential part of our daily life, home rituals and practices, and our personal expression.

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"This is what I got from the foodbank here. When I’m about to cook in the kitchen, I put them on the kitchen table like this. You can see the two corned beefs, the pasta sauce, the tomato sauce. That’s how I’ve been cooking because jollof rice involves a lot of tomatoes. You must surely have more tomatoes in it to enjoy it! You know the pasta sauce, that one includes garlic ginger so on – I like that.

The big pot of jollof rice! With this I can eat it a lot – you know I live in a shared apartment. Every time I cook it, they like it, so I will just give it to them, a little bit remaining inside the fridge. Because I don’t go anywhere I can eat it maybe every afternoon.

My four flatmates, they love it! You know for them, this type of rice is not something you can get easily. Before if you can get it you have to go into African shop, but for you to cook it in the house [that's] something that you are going to pay a lot of money of outside. 'Ah!' People say, ‘Are you cooking? Are you cooking?’ They see it and say, ‘I would like a little’, so they will surely eat out of it!"

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"This is part of the food that I’ve got from the foodbank. This is my kitchen table, so that’s why I put them on the table. This is the green pea, kidney beans, carrots. I mix it together with the spaghetti, that’s how I do it.

This is what they call fried rice. Mix it with kidney beans, green peas, and sweetcorn, carrots from the tins, from what I got from the foodbank.

Everything depends on what I’ve got here. Anything that I’ve got here, I will plan for it. If I didn’t get carrot or kidney beans, I didn’t get anything, I might just use what I’ve got, so it depends. If I get more than what I need I will still make another experiment. . . I will perform it!"

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Resilience
"I only see the one pound in my pocket..."

Coping on a low income for any length of time is a mentally taxing experience, requiring great resilience and resolve. Everybody deals with and understands their situation in different ways. Here our interviewee explains how they focus day-by-day to make the most of their income and remain positive.

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"My hard life makes me very strong . . . Although right from the beginning in life, I knew how to manage myself. So if I see big, I will show big. If I see small I don’t get angry, I will see small. So that’s my life. If you give me plenty, fine. If you give me little I still love. So I like managing myself. 

When I was working, a long time ago, before my immigration problem, because I’ve been working before. When I started the immigration problem in 2016, I was told not to work. Since then, I’ve been having a difficult time. So I’m just managing, managing myself.

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When I’m at work I will tell my boss that the £1 million you are earning per hour. . . I don’t know anything about it. The £1 you are giving me per hour is what I know. I’m only contented with what I’ve got . . . I don’t even look at you, I only look at myself. I don’t see you buying and spending a lot, I only see the £1 in my pocket and my plan is how I’m gonna spend that one pound. I don’t see you with your £1000. 

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That’s why I only concentrate [on] the foodbank. Satisfy myself with it. You people that are having a lot of money, you will be jealous of me. What I want is what I'll get, so with the little I have got . . . I have one pound, I can’t have ten pounds. That is my life."

Our testimonials are direct transcriptions of interviews with foodbank users. If you would like to know more about our process in gathering testimonials email canyouhearme@manchestercentral.foodbank.org.uk.