Birmingham news Tears, hugs, despair - pensioners join record queues for food PremierLeague-News.Com

PremierLeague-News.Com - Birmingham has declared a #FoodSOS - joining a queue at a city food project, the despair was tangible

Birmingham news Tears, hugs, despair - pensioners join record queues for food PremierLeague-News.Com

PremierLeague-News.Com - Birmingham has declared a #FoodSOS - joining a queue at a city food project, the despair was tangible

Birmingham news  Tears, hugs, despair - pensioners join record queues for food PremierLeague-News.Com
23 June 2022 - 05:00

PremierLeague-News.Com - Breaking Sport Transfer News ! A queue, 50 strong, had built up even while the BeKind charity volunteers were setting out the evening's wares. Tins, cereals, pasta and rice on the back, toiletries over there, fresh fruit and veg and bread rolls to one side. But it was too soon to open yet - the Greggs delivery hadn't come. Minutes later, a car pulled up and a tray full of pastries, sausage rolls and vegan bakes, still warm, appeared from the boot. "We're open!" said BeKind founder Yasmin Paulson. Under the canopy of the former House of Fraser store, the team turn up every Monday evening to dish out food and welcome smiles to hungry folk. Among the first in the queue is Christine, 73. READ MORE: 'If we didn't exist people would starve or riot' - anger as city's foodbanks reach crisis point Her fingers, twisted by arthritis, clutch the carrier bag of food tight once she's made her choices. "It's for my neighbour, she isn't managing so well," she tells the volunteers. They suspect she is the one struggling, but is too proud to say so. It also explains why she travels four miles by bus for this weekly helping-hand. "She's unlikely to bump into anyone she knows here," says one of the women who devote their Monday evenings to this voluntary food giveaway. Christine's picked up a box of cornflakes, some rice, soup, a pack of bread rolls, a tin of tuna, longlife milk, biscuits, toothpaste, wipes, fruit juice and a few pieces of fruit. She says the cost of living is making life a battle for everyone. "I used to be able to get a chicken for a couple of pounds, now it's £6." Christine, not her real name, chats to me about the hardships other people on her estate are experiencing as she moves from the food queue to a stall next door, operated by a local faith group, offering hot snacks and tea. It's a slick, well managed operation, everyone queueing patiently and listening to the volunteers in their blue sweatshirts. The project is one of more than 100 frontline foodbanks, pantries and surplus food ventures that now operate locally, trying to meet demand. BeKind founder Yasmin Paulson said need has never been as high. The growing need here is exactly why BirminghamLive has launched a #FoodSOS campaign. Partnering with charity organisations and initiatives set up to put food on the tables of those struggling, we want to increase the help available, and point those in need to the support in their communities. Yasmin tells us later: "We were seeing around 80 here earlier this year - tonight we have fed 130 people. Last week it was 140, a record for us." She adds: "The demographic of those in the queue is changing too". Read More Related Articles 'It's horrendous' - Man forced to 'freeze and starve' in own home after being denied benefits Read More Related Articles Frontline nurse reveals that 'too many colleagues are using food banks' amid crisis "We are seeing more people turning up who are elderly, disabled or working, alongside the city's homeless and those living in shared houses and HMOs," she said. Rising costs of food, fuel and transport, allied to stagnating wages and benefits cuts, are making life incredibly tough for thousands more pensioners, young families and workers. Christine is not the only pensioner in the queue - a grey haired man shuffles along the queue, his jumper hole-ravaged, looking up briefly to share an exchange with one of the smiling volunteers but otherwise keeping his eyes cast down. He looks thin and hopeless Julie, left, with one of the BeKind project's amazing volunteers Julie, 55, has walked from Handsworth. She lives in a shared house, where she's supposedly receiving regular help from a support worker to help her get by, and deal with her mental health issues. But she says the worker only turns up when her service charge is due. She cries when I ask her what life is like for her. "It's awful. This is a highlight of my week, you know? I sometimes just think there's no point in my being here. I think about jumping off buildings a lot." She is getting help from her GP and a mental health charity and later says she is 'just being daft', but the volunteers worry all the same. Volunteers Anita and Maxine from the BeKind charity Debbie, who is visually impaired, walks with the aid of a white stick. She had already picked up her food bag and was waiting to get a hot drink and something to eat but suddenly leaves the queue to sit on a bench nearby, and starts to cry. Volunteer Ryan, part of the charity's security team, goes over to check on her - she says someone in the queue was making her feel very uncomfortable and now she doesn't know if she will get any food. She's also a regular, she tells me.

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. She clings to my arm, tells me she can't afford to eat much, and that she feels very lonely. "Thank you for being nice to me. They are all nice here, but some people are very nasty," she says. The lovely Ryan fetches her some food and a brew, and helps repack her shopping that's spilled out. #FoodSOS - help food heroes supporting the hungry and vulnerable Thousands of people across Birmingham, the Black Country and Solihull are struggling as the cost of living crisis hits hard. Those already on the breadline are being crushed by a combination of rising energy, food and fuel bills. On the food frontline, campaigners and charities are reporting record levels of demand and need while donations are drying up. Pensioners, the working poor, young parents trying to hold families together and vulnerable individuals in supported housing and hostels are among those facing a bleak summer. But together we can make a difference. We have joined forces with the Active Wellbeing Society who help coordinate the brilliant network of foodbanks, food pantries, community projects, pay-as-you-feel cafes, faith and civic organisations offering free or cheap food in Birmingham, the Black Country and Solihull. Together we have declared a #FoodSOS. Local councils, social services and schools are doing what they can to help the most in need. Government payments, rebates and grants are helping some. But there is still a desperate shortfall. You can GIVE HELP in three ways. Donate your MONEY through the community JustGiving collection. Every penny will go to the food frontline to fund food and essential items Donate FOOD to your nearest community food operation Donate your TIME by volunteering to help out at foodbanks, gather food, cook or serve customers at cafes, or distribute parcels. If you're a community group or corporate organisation wanting to sign up together, please get in touch. If you NEED HELP please click on the #FoodSOS map to find your nearest location. #FoodSOS map Thank you. Together we can make a difference. #FoodSOS Stuart Mee, 51, a security sales consultant, is one of the volunteers helping out here. He's sorting out the fruit and veg offerings, and has been helping out for a few months. "A friend asked me to help because the numbers were growing, and once I'd come once I couldn't say no again." Anita Tarry, who works at a hotel in Solihull, and Maxine Willman - currently hosting a Ukrainian refugee family, among other things - are also proud volunteers. "There but for the grace of god go many of us, and the cost of living crisis is bringing that home to so many people." About the BeKind project Yasmin Paulson started the BeKind initiative during the pandemic, initially focussing on providing hampers to say thank you to NHS heroes on the Covid frontline. But seeing the impact of poverty locally drove her to change focus. In June 2021, with the help of five other volunteers, she set up this weekly initiative to provide food and toiletries to people who use foodbanks, women's refuges and for the homeless and vulnerable. Supported by sponsors, they provide essentials to those who have the least, without judgement. Low fresh fruit supply - within half an hour it was all gone Every Monday night they set up under the canopy of the former House of Fraser department store in Temple Row, providing succour and solace to men and women in need. Their partners include Greggs, Morrisons, Tesco and the Co-Op, and work with FareShare, a charity dedicated to reducing food waste by distributing surplus and end of day products. "We see pensioners, people in work who are lowly paid, people stuck without benefits, they might be waiting for a first payment, and people who just can't make their money stretch. By the time they have paid their rent, or service charges, and put money aside for gas and electricity, they don't have a lot left. More people will be in the same position soon if prices keep going like they are," she added. Are you feeling the pinch during the cost of living crisis and struggling to put food on the table? Email jane.haynes@reachplc.com or have your say in the comments below Get Midlands politics news and analysis direct to your inbox with the Midlands Message newsletter. Read More Related Articles 'So many are suffering' - Brummies join huge cost of living protest march Read More Related Articles Hundreds of Kings Heath residents in battle to save woodland from bulldozers

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