How Norwich Foodbank helps families in times of crisis

Some people question the legitimacy of the need that is placed on Norwich Foodbank and ask whether the people that use it are always in crisis.

That is despite the fact that the local charity has grown at a rapid rate in its first year and evidence that as many as 30,000 people in the Greater Norwich area are living on the edge of poverty.

Organisers at Norwich Foodbank admit that people in problems with their benefits is one of the common reasons for turning to them for help – but that is certainly not the only reason. The aim of the charities is to help people in times of crisis.

When times get tough for people without financial security, they can soon find it difficult to afford to feed their family.

An unexpected event such as illness, injury or death can happen to anyone and, along with the emotional difficulties that can follow, even the simple things like keeping food in the cupboards can become a struggle.

Mark and Clare Drake, from Lakenham, pictured left, are just two of the many people whose families have been supported in such times of crisis by Norwich Foodbank.

Mr Drake, 36, suffered kidney failure in November of last year and was placed on the transplant list for a new kidney. That call finally came one night during March this year and suddenly their family life was thrown into chaos.

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Their parents were able to support them initially, looking after their two daughters – Sophie, five, and Saffron, 10 –but Mrs Drake soon needed the help of Norwich Foodbank, which she had come across when helping out at New Hope Christian Centre on Martineau Lane.

Mrs Drake, 31, recalls: 'All the money I had was to keep a roof over our heads.

'We didn't know when Mark was going to get the transplant and the call came at one in the morning.

'I didn't really want to go to the Foodbank at first but when it got to us having no food and the kids screaming because there was no food, I knew I had to.'

After getting through the tough time, the family now donates to Norwich Foodbank whenever they can and Mrs Drake says they won't ever forget the difference the charity made to their lives.

She added: 'I'm a big fan of the Foodbank. All it takes is a box of cornflakes or some cans of tuna to help them make up their food packages, so me and the girls have been doing as much as we can to give something back.'

Has Norwich Foodbank been a big help to you? Call reporter David Freezer on 01603 772418 or email