STEREOTYPES

"I thought foodbanks were for really hard up, really poor, deprived people. But that’s not the case and I know that now because I am one... It is people like myself."

The word “Foodbank” can bring many different reactions and ideas to mind. Many may think of Ken Loach’s film “I Daniel Blake”, which depicts characters who fall through the cracks in the UK’s flawed benefit system and documents the harsh reality of living on inadequate state support. The attitudes of many, however, are informed by media narratives that emphasise an idea of people receiving benefits as undeserving “scroungers” or unrealistic and staged “documentaries” such as “Benefits Street”.

In this environment, accessing state and charitable support can affect an individual’s pride and self-worth and these feelings of shame, fuelled by social attitudes, act as barriers to accessing help and allow us as society to make a choice to refuse to offer adequate social support.

When we think of foodbank users and people receiving state support as “other” it is easy to ignore the problem and deny the reality of the growing number of people from all walks of life who fall upon financial crisis and find that the safety net that we all deserve is not sufficient.

 

Like many of us, the interviewee originally believed foodbanks were for some “other” group of people. Read their interview below.

“I thought foodbanks were for really hard up, really poor, deprived people. That were really, you know hard up, sort of. But that’s not the case and I know that now because I am one... It is people like myself. I’ve never done a crime in my life, I’m a respectable person and yet I am benefitting from this help.

The typical thing even I used to think before using the foodbank, I would think oh they’re from a council estate or been in trouble with the law but that is not just the case and I’ve learnt that. The typical stereotype you think, ‘Oh, I suppose it’s the people that waste their money on drink or cigarettes’. I don't drink or smoke. I am just trying to get by and look after my daughter – but they don’t give you enough to live on

 

I think what will surprise so many people is the diversity of experiences and there are so many different backgrounds of people and reasons why they are using the foodbank. You don’t know peoples’ circumstances. There is a big old spectrum of how life can affect you that you would need this kind of help”

 

In life there are things that go wrong, you know, through no fault of peoples own.”

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.