Grocery shop worker Alain Miah, 52, has seen his rent go up and his shifts halved meaning he’s struggling to support his wife and children, and is now having to visit foodbanks to get by
A London dad has been forced to visit foodbanks to support his family amid Britain’s worsening cost of living crisis.
Alain Miah works in a grocery shop so you would think getting food isn’t a problem, but the 52-year-old dad from Newham says “it is.”
“There has been an increase in rent and my work has been halved,” he told My London.
What used to be a 50 hour week is now only 25, not enough to support his wife and children.
“Last year I was okay but now I am poor,” he continues.
“I eat the old bread but it’s not for my children because they won’t touch it.”
Alain points at his chest and says “my heart is okay, I am healthy.” More than anything he’s talking about his mental health.
He explains it’s his first time visiting the foodbank at Adult College of Barking and Dagenham, and he hopes the last.
Most of the food is from local supermarkets, already labeled with orange reduced stickers.
Two women walk in and say their friend told them to go. They say they would speak more English if they didn’t spend so much time doing “job job job”.
An exhausted looking mum changes her baby’s nappy, facing into the wall. As she stands up to leave she fills her buggy with bits and bobs from the rapidly clearing table.
It’s quiet and everyone gives each other a knowing smile as they are reduced to looking for a flash of nutrition among the beige junk sale of carbs.
Helen Abuchi, 39, from Barking has been waiting for her right to work since she fled Nigeria in 2007.
“Whatever they give us we live off and we try to live within our means,” she explains.
Her 3-month-old son wails as she describes the how the cost of living has hit their family.
“Boy, I have noticed a difference, things have really really gone up. When you get to the till you understand you have bought more than you should and realize you do not have enough money,” she adds.
“I have had to put stuff back of course. Normally I have to cut fruit and veg and buy enough spaghetti to get people full up. But I do not do that with my kids, even if I don’t, my kids will always be looked after and fed.”
Despite Thursday’s cost of living announcement from Chancellor Rishi Sunak, which is set to put hundreds of pounds in the pockets of millions of Brits, the story of foodbank use has been a long term incline.
For those already struggling, this cost of living crisis – brought on by the pandemic and war in Ukraine – has proven the tipping point.
Foodbank use in London has more than doubled in the past five years alone, going from 137,248 visits in 2017 to 283,563 in 2021, according to data from poverty charity the Trussell Trust.
Barking is also a deprivation hotspot, ranking as the most deprived borough in London in a 2019 government study that measures deprivation on multiple factors include income, health, and crime.
The story of foodbank use isn’t unique to Barking or London, but Alain’s grimace says it all.
He leaves with his hood-up and a blue plastic bag full of old bread, heading back to Newham to eat his own dinner.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.