“This has taken a huge weight off my shoulders.” Your support is helping us to change lives.
“This has taken a huge weight off my shoulders, not having to worry about bailiffs on the door. That’s probably 80% of the reason that I’m where I am now.”
Most of the people we meet at Epsom & Ewell Foodbank have experienced painful life events, such as a bereavement, the breakdown of a relationship, poor health, or job loss. Linda was unlucky enough to experience all four of these in a short space of time. Having cared for people all her working life, as a nanny and mother of four grown up children, she desperately needed someone to look after her.
Linda, who is in her 50s, split from her a partner a few years ago, after she found out that he had been cheating on her. Her brother, who she was very close to, died at around the same time. He was the person she would always turn to for help, so this was the lowest point in her life. Linda also suffers from arthritis, which got so bad that she had to give up her job. That is when her financial situation really deteriorated.
“A lot of things happened and I had a bit of a breakdown. It knocks you back. I had no money; otherwise they were going to take my car away, so I stupidly went to one of these loan people”. A colleague at work offered to be her guarantor, but then started getting nasty. In the end, the only way she could pay back the loan was to leave the home she loved and move to a smaller property.
Unfortunately, she regretted it the day she moved: “My old house was peaceful. Where I am now, there are lots of young families. The family above me are fighting all the time and the children don’t go to bed until after midnight. My mental health hit rock bottom.” Her anxiety got so bad that she finds it hard to leave her home, let alone go back to work.
Linda visited one of our centres at the end of 2021, after being referred by her doctor: “I’ve never felt embarrassed about going to the Foodbank, because I’ve always put something in the baskets at the supermarket, and I wouldn’t come unless I had to.”
Penny, one of our Foodbank’s support workers, was great – “really helpful from the word go.” She immediately put Linda in touch with CAP, a debt advice charity, who put in place a Debt Relief Order to clear her debts: “This has taken a huge weight off my shoulders, not having to worry about bailiffs on the door. That’s probably 80% of the reason that I’m where I am now.” Meanwhile, one of the social prescribers from the local GP practice helped her with her mental health problems, showing how agencies can work together effectively to offer the holistic support people need.
Linda has learnt a lot from the way Penny supported her, helping her to become stronger in herself: “I’ve taken a lot on board by listening to Penny and how she deals with [other agencies]. They know they can’t pull the wool over my eyes anymore. I’m more aware of my rights now.”
Having been suicidal when she first came to the Foodbank, Linda says that “I’m just starting to think that I can get out of it, and I will get out of it. There is hope now, whereas before there wasn’t.” Now that she is feeling more in control and more confident, she wants to move to a quieter place, where she can read, do jigsaw puzzles and a bit of gardening: “I just want a bit of peace. I think I’ve been through more in the past few years than most people have in a whole lifetime.”
For more stories of how we are helping, please see here