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“There’s not much money . . . but we do find a lot of joy in Manchester”

In this story we hear about the difficulties created by an inadequate social support system, particularly the ways in which low incomes struggle to cover even the basic costs of living, with the pandemic impacting communities more than ever. Rising living costs, insecure work, low pay, benefit delays, and benefit caps are just a few of the factors which can combine to lead to financial instability.


This story is about great resilience and resourcefulness in the face of challenges to get by. It is about finding the joy in life and working hard to mark special occasions and provide the meals you enjoy as an individual and a family.

Coming to the foodbank


"I've used foodbanks in the past. I tend to use community grocers, you know, so I try not to use them unless it's a real emergency because I know that's what they're there for. But my daughter had a crisis yesterday, so she needed one.   


Last year in the pandemic when it hit in March, it wasn't anywhere near my payday. I had to obviously [ask] for some help and we got really good food. I think it was from the Trussell Trust, two great boxes and that really stood us in good stead. I've had to use [foodbanks] in other times as well, when I've had to buy school uniform. Money has to come [from elsewhere] because we're on a benefit cap of £900 a month. That's what the government is taking off us. 


​As well as that, I'm with a terrible housing association. They’ve just absolutely robbed me blind with the rent. I'm never late with the rent . . .  when they're asking [the money has] got to come from somewhere but there's only so much you can stretch... Unfortunately sometimes you have to put things before food and come to the foodbank.


​And the Job Centre is no help. When I signed on Universal Credit in 2019, they said it'd be four or five weeks, it'd be a month, they have to work a month in arrears. So you said you can go to the foodbank but you're not allowed to go to the same one every week. So you got to come here, get a number and go to a different one every week and not knowing where you're going and they give you no help. It gave me a lot of anxiety as well."


“There’s not much money . . . but we do find a lot of joy in Manchester”


"We like to travel all over. We like to go to Castlefield. There’s not much money as I said. We don’t do Alton Towers, Blackpool. Crikey! That would be a wish! But we do find a lot of joy in Manchester. We get coupons and discounts for train tickets and things like that, Rochdale, Hebden Bridge - we go play pooh sticks!


Castlefield - we were there the other day at the Roman Fort, things like that. Hulme Community Garden Centre, that’s a great day out in itself. So yes, we try and access as much free stuff as we can because there’s not much money for everything. That’s what we’ve been doing a lot over half term. I get a lot off Youtube as well, a bit of baking as well."


Feeding Our Family


"Corned beef and rice, that’s what we always have. That’s what I like. And you can make all of it from what’s in the bag, because all you need is the corned beef, the tinned tomatoes, the rice, and it’s just all made up for you. Yeah we do like that. And rice pudding. Which we get from the foodbank, I never buy it but they love it!


A favourite thing is chick pea curry - I do curries, I’m good at them. And Welsh cakes, I’m obsessed with them, for breakfast. . . . It’s basically a flat scone with raisins in that you fry in butter. It’s just plain flour, sugar, a teeny tiny bit of salt, I don’t know why it works but it does. And raisins. Get it into a dough, cut it out with the cups or cutters. Then just fry them in a bit of butter and have them for breakfast. And they’ll last you for a couple of days as well.


We always try and celebrate all days in the year. Eid, St David’s Day, April Fools’ Day, they’re the favourite. . . . I kind of like Easter . . . It’s good, I can always put the Easter egg chocolates out . . . if you wait until the last week of Easter they always go down in price, you see. Everyone goes for the big ones, but if you wait for the end, because it’s the last week of Easter, they want to get rid. We got Malteaser bunnies last year for 10p from the Co-Op. They were a pound each a week or so before. You can get some real bargains there. Sometimes I over-buy and you can do next year. They don’t go off, honestly, they taste the same."


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

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