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.
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.
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”.
1 month and 10 days ago Alayna arrived in Liverpool from Iran. After a difficult journey crossing borders hidden in a lorry with her partner and 2 year old daughter, her family are seeking asylum in the UK.
Dressed in a tracksuit and t-shirt, this is Alayna’s third visit to Micah Liverpool foodbank. She feels safe, and welcomed, receiving bags of food including rice, eggs, bananas, oranges, potatoes, a giant onion and a handful of freshly grown radishes. Although this last month has been hard, with a large smile on her face, Alayna explains “In my country I am not free, here I am free!”.
She is very grateful for the support her family has received. She tells how her daughter loves the fruit, and is learning to say “Mummy banana” when she comes in the door. Alayna is looking forward to using the eggs to make shakshuka, a Persian dish where the eggs are cooked on a bed of tomatoes and herbs.