The breadline

After years of austerity, wide-ranging cuts to social safety nets and slow, uneven economic growth, many people in the UK find themselves with so little left over at the end of the month that they struggle to put food on the table. More than eight million people in Britain live in households that cannot always afford enough to eat, according to research from the Food Foundation.

The food bank has become a necessary feature of many people’s lives. The Trussell Trust, which runs more than 420 food banks across the country, gave out 1.1 million threeday emergency food packages last year. In 2009-10, that number was less than 41,000. The charity’s centres in Richmond and Brent show that working people, the longterm ill, pensioners and families are all in difficulty. Many of the volunteers are otherwise unemployed, some have used the food banks themselves. With more cuts looming, and many more forced to seek help, these food banks offer assistance without stigma and a rare sense of community and solidarity.

Photos: Ally Welensky