Emma only goes to the foodbank when she’s desperate, but when she does it's a massive help.

She says, “Definitely there have been times when I haven't been able to get through without it” 

Recently she has had big problems affording the gas and electricity.

When she gets her benefits she puts money onto the gas and electric meter but this year it has been more than double what it used to be.

She says, “It’s literally impossible”. 

There have been times when she couldn’t top up the gas even though she has children. Now she has an extra direct debit coming from her bank account to clear the debt on the energy bills.

Sometimes she forgets about that and thinks there is more in the account than there is. Emma has found herself in the shops with no money in her account.

There’s always something new to pay for, food has gone up a lot as well and with a family to feed that’s another stress. Universal Credit is simply not enough to cover anything extra that may crop up. 

School uniforms are yet another bill, especially shoes. 

Emma can get inexpensive shoes for her children but they break quickly. On the other hand a pair of shoes from Clark’s can be £60 but last a year.

This is a choice Emma would love to make, but just cannot afford to buy the long lasting pair!

She is left dreading her children coming home from school and telling her that they have broken a shoe or ripped their shirts because she doesn’t know how she’ll replace them.

She has asked her children not to play football at break times for fear of the damage it may cause to their uniforms. 

She has been through different referral agencies to try and get help with energy and school uniforms but often ends up on the phone for hours and getting nowhere.

As winter is approaching, she is desperate to save up something for Christmas presents, but doesn’t now how this will be possible. 

At Epping Forest Foodbank, we are seeing more and more people like Emma come through our doors.

n If you need assistance, call Help Through Hardship on 0808 208 2138. If you would like to help with our work through donating your time, money or food items, visit our website: eppingforest.foodbank.org.

  • Jacob Forman is director at Epping Forest Foodbank.