'Forgotten' families turn to foodbanks as they face months without income because of coronavirus
Families in Bristol have told ITV News they feel 'forgotten' as they suddenly face the prospect of months without income or any financial support.
Across the city residents have turned to the Bristol North West Foodbank to help feed their children during this unstable time. But already demand on the service has doubled.
"The kids wouldn't have ate much this week if we hadn't come to the foodbank," said mum Joanne Hill.
Joanne's husband is a building subcontractor whose work has abruptly stopped. It could be months before he can start earning again. He may qualify for the government support for the self-employed, but they'll have to wait until June.
Joanne said, "as soon as the reality of the situation hit home, every job he had was cancelled. It's been hard to cope with. I've got four dependents and I feel isolated anyway."
They are now reliant on the benefits Joanne receives for her long term health condition. Something which puts her at high risk to the virus.
Inside the foodbank is a sprawling mass of crates filled with food and toiletries. It's taken over an entire church. Volunteers who are desperately trying to stick to social distancing guidelines are working flat out.
"People lost their free school meals so families are struggling with that. We're seeing people who've lost their jobs and they're on the phone in tears," said Emma Murray, the Head of Bristol North West Foodbank.
Emma reveals they've given out a thousand boxes of food in recent weeks. Double what they normally would. And it's for people who've never had to use foodbanks before.
The team are also completely reliant on a new set of volunteers. Most of the regulars are retired and elderly and have gone into self isolation.
Caroline Martin is waiting for an operation and is in the process of getting her benefits for her health condition renewed. For now the payments have stopped. She has three children to look after at home.
"I don't know what's happening with my benefits. No one's in the office at the moment. If I didn't have the foodbank, I wouldn't be able to live," said Caroline.
Whatever the outcome, she is confident she will get the money she is owed backdated. But as a single parent it leaves her facing a difficult for months.
"I suffer from depression, anxiety, panic attacks. I've been ill quite a lot. So with the foodbank it's been a lifesaver. I don't know what I would have done.
For those who struggle financially this crisis has pushed many over the edge. All they can do is have faith this won't last forever
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