Hayley called into the Greenwich foodbank just before Christmas. She was still in the very last stages of pregnancy, but wanted to bring me up to date on how things were going for her family. A week earlier, I’d met her for the first time when she called in with a voucher for three days of emergency food. She, her partner and their two children of 13 and nine were in dire straits. She’s a home care worker who stopped work early because she had a history of giving birth prematurely and wasn’t able to do the lifting and hoisting of clients that her job requires. Her employers owe her statutory maternity pay which should have been given to her well before Christmas, but which they have told her will not now arrive until mid-January.
Her partner is a self-employed driving instructor. Business has been very bad recently, with no clients booked in. But he still has to find the money to pay franchise fees. Hayley had applied to the council for housing benefit, but this had been refused.
By the time she came back in to see me, things had already progressed in a very positive way. She told me that her housing association London and Quadrant had arranged to post her another food bank voucher. It had also arranged for her to access the Government’s warm homes discount scheme via her energy supplier British Gas. This offers eligible customers on lower incomes rebates on their electricity bill. This is a one-off payment of £140. L&Q have also sent Hayley an application form for water rates discount, and the housing association is also writing to The Royal Borough of Greenwich on Hayley’s behalf to apply for her to receive council tax discount.
This wasn’t the only good news. Alan Robinson, the manager of Greenwich Foodbank arranged for the family to have a Christmas hamper – with fresh food and a turkey – delivered just before Christmas Eve. The family has also received some extra short-term support with food and essentials from a small charity.
The best delivery of all happened on Christmas Eve. I got the message that in the early hours Hayley and her partner’s baby girl arrived safely.
Happy Christmas everyone….