“My life fell apart and ended with me having to get help from a foodbank.”
Although diagnosed with bipolar disorder 40 years ago, Babs, 56 from Exeter had always managed to work while raising her two sons alone. However, when her health deteriorated and she suffered a mental breakdown she was advised to stop working permanently.
The ex-army nurse had never claimed benefits until she was forced to stop working. Unfortunately, the wait for her Employment Support Allowance (ESA) was longer than anticipated and when all remaining money went towards paying the bills she was referred to a foodbank.
Babs explains: “My life fell apart and ended with me having to get help from a foodbank. I’ve had to decide between heating and eating. I never thought I would be in that position.”
She has also donated to foodbanks whilst previously working: “I didn’t think twice about putting something at the end of an aisle in a foodbank container, but I never expected to have to go myself.”
While Babs admits she initially felt ashamed having to use the foodbank, it was a relief for her to finally come home with some food: “I want to support myself how I always have and I felt like people would think that I was useless. However, the volunteers were incredible, non-judgemental and caring. I had a cup of tea and went away feeling much better than I did when I walked in.”
Babs is currently focusing on improving her health and is very grateful for the support she received: “The foodbank helped me unbelievably. Without it, my health wouldn’t be getting better as the one thing I wasn’t doing was feeding myself, so it’s part of a great big jigsaw of my recovery.”