Middle-class Londoners join homeless heading to food bank amid rocketing living costs

Xinhua
Middle-class Londoners join homeless heading to food bank amid rocketing living costs

„These people are discovering a whole new world.” As McGranaghan spoke to Xinhua, a constant procession of people were politely welcomed and sent into the food bank to gather what they needed. Since the charity was set up, it has helped over 53,000 families.

LONDON, May 5 (Xinhua) — Just a few minutes’ walk from London’s Stamford Bridge stadium, home to Chelsea Football Club, former pop band singer Billy McGranaghan opens the door of the charity center he started a few years ago.

Most of the people heading to McGranaghan’s food bank in West Brompton used to be out-of-work, low-income or homeless people collecting vital food parcels.

Now, the food bank is seeing an increasing number of middle-class people needing free food, including professionals, such as nurses, teachers and once successful businesspeople.

„Most of our clients were people on low incomes, but the recent increases in energy prices have changed everything,” said the 58-year-old Scottish from Edinburgh, who started the Dads House charity to help single dads like himself.

Britain’s Consumer Prices Index (CPI) rose by seven percent in the 12 months to March 2022, hitting a new 30-year high, according to official figures. Shop prices in the country also rose at an annual rate of 2.7 percent in April, marking the highest inflation rate since September 2011.

„The impact of rising energy prices and the conflict in Ukraine continued to feed through into April’s retail prices,” said Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

One of McGranaghan’s food bank’s regulars ran his own building company, employing 30 people. But it went under during the COVID-19 pandemic. „Since the pandemic, everything has changed, and now we are getting clients from all social classes.”

The massive rise in gas, electricity and fuel prices has hit everybody hard, including families, who not so long ago would be regarded as comfortably off.

„These people are discovering a whole new world.” As McGranaghan spoke to Xinhua, a constant procession of people were politely welcomed and sent into the food bank to gather what they needed. Since the charity was set up, it has helped over 53,000 families.

„Our food parcels have become a lifeline for them. Food banks have become normalized, but they shouldn’t be,” said McGranaghan, whose charity was getting people living on benefits of 78 British pounds (102 U.S. dollars) a week and having to feed 40 or 50 pounds into the gas and electricity meters.

As the need for food banks increases, McGranaghan has also seen a trend hitting many of Britain’s food banks: Donations are falling.

People who happily tossed provisions into collecting boxes at major stores are finding they cannot afford to donate as much food.

„Our food donations have halved in recent weeks,” he said, adding: „I just hope that is a blip.”

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