Category: Stories

Kalli’s Story

Good Food Programme Director, Dr Naomi Maynard and Food Pantry Volunteer Kalli Speariett recently spoke with Kay Burley for Sky News about the cost-of-living crisis and how it is impacting on community food spaces across Liverpool.

After their interview, they spoke with each other about the personal impact of the cost-of-living crisis, what they are noticing in their communities, and how government could help families by increasing the threshold for free school meals.


Story from Anonymous

I’m a self-employed 57-year-old, who has been out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to my lack of eligibility, I have had no help from any government bodies during this time. This has taken a heavy toll on me personally and I’ve begun staying in bed for much of the day, as then I don’t have to even think about breakfast and lunch, often just having a single evening meal. My neighbours volunteer at the local foodbank and for this reason I don’t go as I wouldn’t want the added stress of embarrassment.

I’m increasingly worried about my future as my state pension is ten years away due to the retirement age being put back and I seem unable to get a job even though I’m often over-qualified. I have a feeling this is due to my age, which is disheartening as I’ve worked since I was 15. I’ve persevered through this, but the retirement age push back has really hurt me. I also wish there was a more subtle way I could access help, other than at a food bank.

John Paul’s story

I left care when I was 17, I’m 24 now. I’ve been living on my own or in hostels ever since in and out of work.

This last year’s been hard, I started working in January for an agency and after two weeks they had to let me go because of my asthma, the only role they had available was all in COVID wards in the hospital, and because of my asthma they couldn’t put me there, so they had to cancel the contract.

When I started working I was buying higher quality ingredients and everything, so I can actually cook my meals from scratch rather than getting them frozen. I can make my own pizzas and everything but then obviously that ended and it’s kind of gone back to the usual frozen ready meals.

I think what’s needed is to either make foods more cost effective or for an increase in Universal Credit, which I know that they have been doing since the start- April last year, but a permanent increase if you get me.

Cheryl’s story

I’m Cheryl, I’m 51 and I have two daughters and four granddaughters.

I was a nurse a few years ago, but I worked as a cleaner before the pandemic. Before Covid I got some temporary work, but then it just fell on its face. I was just doing some cleaning to fill gaps but that fizzled out and we were back to square zero. One daughter and granddaughter depend on me totally, and it put me in poverty just when they had no income.

We are tossing up, do we put money in the meter or eat? I was reluctant to use foodbanks because it’s all tinned food – I have multiple food allergies and I am allergic to all pharmaceuticals, I get sick, so I use my food as medicine. Food is medicine to me. When I just rely on tins I get sick really, really quickly.

The fruit and veg is the best part! Even if I am the veggie in our house, my daughter and granddaughter they both still love veg, its good nutrients. We need our immunities boosting during this season anyways, even without Covid. It’s been hard, especially with the baby, she’s just two and she’s growing, her needs are growing. This has helped us juggle a little bit more.

I share whatever I cook with my block, I got three men who live single in my block, so I leave what I’ve cooked outside their doors.

Zahara’s Story

My husband and I have been living near Prince’s Park for the last year. We’re originally from the Yemen, but lived in Germany for a little while before coming to Liverpool. We arrived last summer, back then things were looking up, we had money, we had a car and my husband had a job.

When the second lockdown started that job was gone. We had nothing and we aren’t eligible for benefits. We’re now in debt and owe our landlord thousands of pounds in rent.

It has been tough, there have been times when we were only having soup. I’m a good cook, but we just don’t have the money. During the last few weeks we experience some depression, we didn’t even have the appetite for food. We are getting support from the community centre and a church, we are so grateful. If I do find a job I’ll have income and then probably my circumstances will change.

Barry’s story

My two daughters, one’s 10 and the other one’s 14, I’ll have them fed more than me, you know what I mean, you’ve got to. It’s like my cat, I’ve got to make sure she’s fed before me.

I only started learning to cook in the last couple of years. It’s not that I like cooking, it’s a necessity really, more than anything. But I have actually found it quite therapeutic to be honest.

I had 4 jobs a week at one point but I’ve been in and out of employment for about 10 years now. I’m trying to get back into work and been on courses through the foodbank. I’ve struggled with my mental health over the years, I was recently diagnosed with Bipolar and Adult ADHD. I’ve tried to kill myself a few times.

I come to a food bank, and I volunteer there too. Volunteering gives me strength, makes me feel good, I enjoy helping other people. I’ll do something but I won’t wait round to be thanked. As long I know it’s been done to my ability, I’m happy with that.

Neil’s Story

This year I turn 59.  I don’t have a home or an income so I need to rely on food each week from two foodbanks. Before the pandemic I went around the soup kitchens, I used to volunteer at them too and work the door, but now a lot of them are closed.

I’m disabled but my disability, we just don’t’ get assistance for our type. That’s a very long story (sighs), I haven’t claimed since 2007.

I don’t have anywhere to cook, so I eat pre-prepared or dried foods. That’s what I get here at the foodbank. The variety of food I get is good but without the second food bank, the quantity wouldn’t be enough for the week.

Sikarthmi’s Story

After leaving Sri Lanka, Liverpool has been home to me and my five children aged 2, 5, 9, 10 and 15, for the last eight years. Since my husband left earlier this year, I have struggled financially, and my spouse visa expired last month. Our future feels uncertain.

My children love the fresh fruit, vegetables, and eggs we receive at the foodbank. In the evenings they will eat the carrots and peppers ‘fresh’, dipping them in yoghurt, whilst I prepare a Sri Lankan egg pudding for dessert.

The foodbank feels like a family. It is more than the food I receive, it is a place where I feel loved and accepted, giving me the strength to face the road ahead.

Vlora’s Story

It has been three years since Vlora left Albania. At 25, she came to England on a spouse visa, accompanying her husband as he found work. Three month ago he left her and their two children, aged 18 months and three years, for a different life in London.

He occasionally sends money, however Vlora finds herself unable to make ends meet as she is still not allowed to work. She only has a little English, but explains this is her third visit to Micah Liverpool foodbank. She is grateful for the food, and in particular for the nappies for the baby.

Sarah’s story

Standing in the queue 30 minutes before the foodbank opens, Sarah is happy to talk. She is 48, now living alone as her son as long since moved out. In her thick scouse accent, Sarah explains she is struggling with her mental health. A recent spell in hospital has meant her benefits have been fluctuating. Finding herself in rent arrears, she is thankful for the support of the foodbank. Sarah shows me her ‘continuous ticket’, meaning she can visit for the next few weeks until her debts are paid off.

“I have to eat to with the medicine I take for my mental health, so the foodbank helps.”

When asked about the fruit, vegetables and eggs provided through the Winter Boost initiative, Sarah explains “it has made a huge difference. If you’ve got vegetables you can do a curry, do a blind scouse. I got a turnip the other week, I didn’t know what to do with it but gave it a go. The eggs were lovely, I done waffles with eggs when my son came to visit”.