Kevin Jobbins, who's living on £7 a fortnight for food, following a benefit sanction
Kevin, who’s living on £7 a fortnight for food, is offered help from charity the Biscuit Fund

Something marvellous has happened! Those of you who’ve been following this blog for a while will know that the accounts people share of their lives – at the Greenwich food bank (part of the Trussell Trust network of food banks) and elsewhere – are often very grim. So I don’t get to use the word marvellous very often. There you go, I sneaked the word in again.

This week was different. There was some brilliant news for one of the food bank’s clients. A small charity called the Biscuit Fund was alerted via Twitter to my recent interview with Kevin .  It has now come forward  to offer Kevin some very well targeted and timely help.

He was left trying to exist on a food budget of £3.50 a week after he was sanctioned back in April while on employment and support allowance (ESA). He was told this was because he failed to arrive for an appointment with the Seetec job club. The reason  he didn’t make the appointment was because he had to look after his two-year-old son. The Biscuit Fund read the interview, and has been in touch with him. The charity has now agreed to send him a weekly food shop of fresh food for the next six weeks, and it will also pay his rent and council tax directly for the same amount of time.

Kevin, whose benefit payment went from £202 a fortnight to £47 because of the sanction, says he ended up begging and stealing for food because of the sanction. He has issues with drug and alcohol addiction. The 39-year-old is waiting to go into detox treatment and is awaiting surgery for a painful foot condition linked to his time as a homeless person. As far as I’m aware, the sanction is still in place this week, though I’m trying to check this with Kevin. His full benefit certainly hadn’t been reinstated at the start of this week.

While he was of course very pleased to get some help from the food bank last week, the supply on offer via the Trussell Trust network  is three days’ nutritionally-balanced non-perishable food. The fresh food will be a very welcome addition, and takes the pressure off a little as he tries to build up his health and confidence.

The manager of Greenwich food bank Alan Robinson said: “This is such good news, and it shows some hope amidst the despair of other stories.”

The Biscuit Fund operates almost solely online, looking out on help forums and pages for people in dire need of help. It got off the ground in early 2013, and has managed to raise and donate around £6,000 to people in poverty. It says on its website: “A large number of our clients are actually working families, who are simply finding that the money they earn just doesn’t cover the food and heating bills. We have also aided disabled people who have been declared ‘fit for work’, who have been left with no income and no job propects, as well as folk who have been victims of crime in the form of muggings or theft.”

To avoid the risk of being defrauded, and because it has such limited funds, the charity offers only  one-off donations and the identities of its advocates are kept anonymous. It does not accept direct applications for help. The Biscuit Fund offers small cash donations or sometimes online food orders that give people “just a little helping hand when they need it most, without making them feel humiliated or making them wait in line”.

Sometimes, the charity says, all that’s needed is £20 to top up an electricity meter, or sometimes a larger bill has to be handled to avoid the client being visited by bailiffs. if you’ve read this and are inspired, the Biscuit Fund has a donate button on its website.

Last words from the charity: “This is what we do. We love it. We believe in it. We believe in giving people just a tiny bit of  hope.”





16 thoughts on “An exercise in hope: The Biscuit Fund steps to help Kevin after his benefits are sanctioned

  1. Thats wonderful… bought tears to my eyes. In a time when people are made to feel like worthless shit, along comes a story that makes you realise there are still some good people out there… as for the DWP… WTF ARE YOU GUYS ON???? The guy is on ESA for a reason.. and sanctioning him for looking after his son is despicable!! SHAME ON YOU ALL.

  2. That’s a fantastic story, and the Biscuit Fund sounds very good. The fact that IDS survived the recent reshuffle beggars belief.

  3. Reblogged this on Jay's Journal and commented:
    This government is in for such a shock come May!
    The Biscuit Trust are wonderful for doing such a fantastic thing.
    Even though I am in receipt of ESA I worry that I can be sanctioned or have money taken off me, just for breathing!
    I had never heard of the Biscuit Fund so have read about them – I love how they can help in many ways and don’t have directors to pay. See if you can give a donation.

    1. I’ve only just found out about the Biscuit Fund too. They’re doing excellent work to support people who’re being left destitute. The most vulnerable seem to be the ones most likely to be left without any safety net presently.

  4. Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    Ann McGauran describes how the Biscuit Fund has stepped in to give one of the people she sees at the food bank a weekly food shop and to pay his rent and council tax for the next six weeks. She also describes the work the Biscuit Fund does, and how Kevin, the recipient of the Fund’s support, came to be sanctioned. This is just one of the faces behind the stats on the people sanctioned and left hungry and desperate by the government’s welfare changes. Kevin was sanctioned for missing a SEETEC job club meeting because he has a two-year old son to look after. Now I suspect that most parents would have done the same – gone to look after their child. This, apparently, is wrong according to IDS’ warped system of priorities, which reminds me of nothing so much as the deranged, sadistic job centre manager, intent on humiliating her luckless charges on The League of Gentlemen. Well, IDS really is as grotesque and monstrous as any of the bizarre inhabitants of Royston Vesey. Which makes me suspect that the first question he’ll put on any revised benefit forms will be ‘Are you local?’
    Welcome to the weird world of the Tories. You’ll never leave.

  5. I have been helped by them and my son and I can never thank them enough it was mainly for my son that I needed help hes disabled and on jsa and has lost 17 weeks money since last nov 2013 I managed to keep him alive out of my savings but after 12 weeks they soon disappeared so now we both on bread line. but as soon as I have a little money saved it will be going to the biscuit fund and hope it gives others the help I got when we needed it thank you very much biscuit fund keep up the good work

  6. Can I just say what a comfort to uncover someone who really understands
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  7. Very good blog! Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
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