A well known Derry community worker says the stigma around using food banks is being broken down as more and more Derry families are in need of what’s been described as a vital service.
Rosie Doherty, co-ordinator of Galliagh Women’s Group, said more people than ever are attending the group’s offices at Galliagh Park to receive food vouchers.
The vouchers are then redeemed at the Foyle Food Bank in Pump Street.
“I think people need to be aware that it’s very easy to get into a position where there isn’t enough money to put food on the table.
“That can happen to just about anyone. There’s definitely a misconception that food banks are mainly for people who are down and out and have no money at all,” Rosie told the ‘Journal.’
“That is simply not the case. More and more we’re seeing people coming in with scenarios where one person in a house has lost their job.
“All of a sudden half the amount of money coming into that house has gone, but the outgoings are still the same.
“People still have the mortgage to pay and all the other bills, but only half the amount of money is coming in to cover that.
“Those are the type of people who are now having to ask for food vouchers. There are also cases where young families with children are hit with a major unforeseen expense like the car breaking down, and again that swallows up any money that they may have needed for other essentials. One hiccup like this can leave a family in dire need of help.”
Rosie explained how the Galliagh Women’s Group first started working with the Foyle Food Bank two years ago.
“It’s one of the aspects of our service which has seen a big increase in demand since we first started it,” she said.
“We have one person here in our centre who deals with the food vouchers and it’s done in a very discreet manner. People who need to use the food bank come in to the centre like people who come in for any of the other services we provide. It’s a confidential service and we treat every individual request in a confidential maner.
“The message we want to send out is that there is nothing wrong with having to ask for help. The food bank is there for people who find themselves in situations they might never have imagined.
“Any one of us, regardless of whether we’re in work or not, might have to reach out and ask for help so we really need to break down the misconceptions around what is a vital service.”