We're in south-west England, two hours away from London, in the small town of Salisbury at the local church. The real reason the Sanford family come to this church every week is not to worship. They come here to fill their stomachs at the ‘Trussell Trust’, a Christian charity which has a food bank.
Justin and Sarah are not homeless. They have a roof over their heads. Like most British people they pay their bills every month but this family of six is having more and more trouble making ends meet.
So much trouble that Justin’s family needs hand-outs to survive: "We have so little money with the prices of everything going up and up. It is getting very difficult and this makes all the difference between hungry kids that are shouting and screaming and quiet ones that are happy with full tummies."
New sign of poverty
Empty stomachs are just one of the many signs of increasing poverty in Great Britain. Over the last two months, this charitable food distribution centre has seen a 15 percent increase in the number of people it feeds compared to last year.
For Chris Mould, director of the ‘Trussell Trust’ charity, the explanation is quite simple: "Sadly, because of the recession and the economic downturn in our country, we’re seing a lot more people referred to the food bank. So we anticipate growth and the need for more donations of food from the public."
Today in the UK, charity food centres don’t feed just homeless or unemployed people. Eighty-five percent of those who come to this centre in Salisbury are people who work but only for a very low wage: ‘People are paid insufficiently to deal with unexpected bills. "Rent has gone up, morgage prices have gone up, the cost of keeping your house... What do you do? Do you lose the house, do you pay the bills, do you feed the children?" asks Chris Mould.
Finding ways to cut down on bills
The Sanfords ask themselves those questions all the time. Sarah works in a school and Justin has lots of small jobs. But today their earnings are no longer enough to feed their family. So they’ve got to find every way they can to reduce their bills.
"The only heating for our entire home is this fire. We sleep in army sleeping bags, which are nice and warm. They’re meant to keep soldiers warm in the field, sot they keep us warm in our beds," confides Justin.
The Sanfords do everything they can to save money. Justin hunts during the winter and grows vegetables in spring. Yet despite all their efforts, the family now risk losing their home. They owe several months’ rent and their landlord, the local Council, has started legal proceedings to make them pay.