Gas price crisis: Leeds foodbank client on reality of eating or heating

A Leeds foodbank client has spoken of the reality of having to make the difficult choice between eating or heating as more people on low  incomes are set to be affected by the gas price crisis this winter.

By Mark Lavery
Friday, 24th September 2021, 4:45 am
Updated Friday, 24th September 2021, 12:26 pm

The man from Beeston, who doesn't want to be named, said he has used the Leeds South and East Foodbank in times of desperate need around a dozen times in recent years.

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He spoke to the YEP as the foodbank prepares for an upsurge in demand for a number reasons, including the gas price crisis - which is set to see energy bills rise this winter due to spiralling gas prices.

Project manager Wendy Doyle at the Leeds South and East Foodbank depot on the Millshaw Industrial Estate. Photo: Tony Johnson

"I try not to use the foodbank, but if I'm really desperate I will," he said.

"When I first started using it I was between benefits and there was a massive break going from job seekers allowance to universal credit at the end of 2018."

He said he didn't have any income for around 10 weeks. "I was just scrimping and saving. I did a lot of going out and visiting, maybe get offered some tea.

"They (the foodbank) were very welcoming and accommodating.

"They say it's enough food for three meals a day for three days. It helped me massively. I was very grateful for it."

"I have been in and out of work for the last couple of years so I found myself going back to the foodbank.

"I live in private rented accommodation, which is not the cheapest."

He added: "The worst time for me was probably around a year ago.

"At the end of last year I had to go out and spend time at friends' houses so I didn't have to put the heating on.

He said he had to choose between putting the heating on or buying food."I would buy food and just put an extra layer on." he said.

He said he had a prepayment meter for gas and electric, which is more expensive than a standard tariff.

The man, who relies on universal credit when he is out of work, said he will definitely have to visit the food bank this winter.

He said he currently has around £25 per week to spend on food. "That is without luxuries," he said.

"I'm just trying to make sure I'm stocked up with food and trying to keep on top of my meters with things. but it's difficult.

"They (the foodbank) do an amazing job and they make you feel like you are not the only one in that position and that they are there anytime you need to talk to someone.

"They are a good lot and I can't fault them at all."

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