Opening the doors: Debt, domestic violence, power relations and an eviction notice

Foodbankhelper gives here another example of the way the government’s austerity campaign is seriously harming some of society’s most vulnerable individuals. This time the person turning to them for help is a law graduate, who suffers from serious mental health issues and has fled a violent home. She is now facing eviction from her hostel in addition to having her benefit stopped. Clearly, this woman, and so many of the other victims Londonfoodbank has profiled in their column, should not be on the streets, and forced to go to a foodbank to eat. And as a legal graduate, she is certainly not one of the skivers about which George Osborne and the rest of the Tory windbags like to sound off about. I’ve friends who’ve studied law, and heard the same thing from all of them: it’s a lot of work.

Debt also features in this woman’s problems, and Londonfoodbank describes a conference they attended on the subject by the Jubilee Debt Campaign. The statement that ‘debt is at the centre of a broken economic system that is hurting people everywhere’ is absolutely true. I can remember working briefly for a financial services firm. It was a right bunch of yuppie rip-off merchants, and I wasn’t surprised to learn later that they were closed down by both financial regulators – FIMBRA and LAUTRO. They explicitly told their staff to ‘spend slightly more than you earn. It’s a great way to get you up for work in the morning.’ No, it’s debt, and it’s a great way to lose your home, possessions and wreck your entire life. But this was the ’90s when everyone was throwing around free credit. And now we’re all paying for it as a society. And the people who are really hurt by it, are those who can least afford to pay, like the lady profiled here.

Ann McGauran

Sarah, a single woman of 28 and a law graduate, came in on Friday and kindly shared her account of why she needed help. Before I pass on her story I’d like to remind readers that I don’t speak for those who run this London food bank, although they’ve allowed me to interview their clients. Any opinions expressed on this site from time to time are my own. I don’t represent the food banks in the borough of Greenwich. Neither do I represent the views of the Trussell Trust, which partners with churches in this area to run the food banks.

Sarah (not her real name) must have thought her life was on a more even keel when she finally worked up the courage to escape the violence in her family home. She had moved back in again in 2008 when she struggled to find a job after leaving…

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