The sheer tension of trying to survive from day to day leads to arguments at home for many of the clients who come to this London food bank. Abdul and his wife Rahma have been rowing, and the police got involved. They in turn referred him to a social worker, who gave him a food bank voucher.
The only money this family of four has coming in at the moment is child benefit for the two children. Abdul’s wife has depression, and is not able to work. This has been confirmed by her GP, so she applied for Employment Support Allowance (ESA). She is appealing the decision by the Department of Work and Pensions to refuse her ESA.
His wife is Spanish, and the couple have been in the UK for six years. They live in a privately-rented home. Before she got ill she had been working on and off as an assistant chef in an Italian restaurant. Abdul, who also worked in a restaurant, has also been a self-employed market trader. But with his wife unwell and unable to cope with the children, he has been at home looking after the youngsters of two and three.
He tells me: “Going back 10 weeks, she had been receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) for about seven months. They said she’s not a UK national or Irish, but she had been working and she’s paid taxes. The JSA was £114 for a couple per week, but we’ve now had 10 weeks without any money at all.”
Abdul, who is 37, has now had to borrow £200 from his wife’s cousin, but doesn’t know when he can repay him. He applied for child tax credit five weeks ago, but still hasn’t heard back about it. He has now applied to the council for a crisis loan. I’ll follow up Abdul’s progress in a few weeks…..