At this despairing time of inflation, food banks are saviours for people who are struggling profoundly with their finances, mental health, essentials and food. The Epsom and Ewell food bank holds their role of being a leading light to people - guiding those to see a future, a future worth endeavouring for. Yet in this year of 2023, as winter approaches and the cost-of-living crisis deteriorates, we must act communally to help.

During my interview with Jonathan Lees (Managing Director and Founder) and Dáfne Castro e Lemos (Manager), we uncovered the truth about inflation and its effects on food banks. The ‘Good Company’ incorporating Epsom and Ewell food bank was set up, using a holistic approach in 2012 by Jonathan Lees as he believed that ‘no one should be hungry’, steering to the opening of the food bank. But since Covid-19 and the rise in inflation, pressure has been accumulating for the food banks and while they strive through these times it is fundamental that we acknowledge their needs and help them to continue being the Samaritans of society. 

Dáfne pinpointed that the Coronavirus pandemic resulted in millions being isolated and alone for a prolonged amount of time. During this time, the food bank employees would be the first people their clients would have seen in a week or even more, emphasising the emotional significance and comfort of the food banks. 

Jonathan and Dáfne specified that the flexibility of benefits must be higher to facilitate individuals and enable their clients to live. The impact of inflation has increased the number of clients from diverse backgrounds, projecting that everyone who enters the food bank is different; all with their own story, not fitting under a stereotype but the one thing that bonds them - hopelessness. 

In 2022, the Universal Credit Covid uplift expired meaning that individuals lost £100 a month to their benefits. Phillip Alston - Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, United Nations wrote a report: ‘14 million people in the UK are living in poverty, record levels of hunger and homelessness, falling life expectancy for some groups, even fewer community services, and greatly reduced policing’. There has been a 15% drop in donations to food banks as everyone has been affected by inflation and even the most generous have less to give. The demand for food supplies is increasing, energy becoming even more expensive and national food shortages escalating. 

Whilst the philanthropic food banks are doing everything in their power to help others, we can also play our part by signing the poverty pledge and campaign to increase benefits for those less fortunate than us.