Tears, hugs and frustration as pensioners join record lines to eat at Birmingham Charity

One row, 50 strong, lined up as BeKind charity volunteers prepared evening supplies. Tons, cereals, pasta and rice on the back, toilet there, fresh fruit and vegetable and bread rolls on one side.

But it was too early to open – Greggs was not delivered. A few minutes later, a car pulled up and a tray full of pastries, sausage rolls and wagon bags appeared from the boat. “We’re open!” Beacon founder Yasmin Paulson said.

Under the umbrella of the former House of Fraser store, the team arrives every Monday evening to prepare food and to greet the hungry with smiles. Christine, 73, tops the list.

Read more: ‘If we weren’t here people would starve or riot’ – Anger at the city’s food bank crisis

Her fingers are bent due to joint pain, and when she makes her choice, she grabs the food carrier bag tightly. “It’s for my neighbor, she’s not managing so well,” she tells volunteers. She suspects she’s struggling, but she’s proud to say it.

It also explains why she travels four miles by bus for this weekly help. One of the women who volunteered Monday evening to eat said, “She could hit anyone she knows here.”

Christine took a can of corn flakes, some rice, soup, a packet of bread rolls, a ton of tuna, long life milk, biscuits, toothpaste, wipes, fruit juice and a few pieces of fruit. She says the cost of living is making life a battle for everyone. “I was able to get a chicken for a couple of pounds, now it’s £ 6.”

Christine, not her real name, talks to me about the difficulties that other people in her estate face when she walks from the dining room to a front door stall run by a local religious group. Yes, offers hot snacks and tea.

It’s a smart, well-organized operation, with everyone standing patiently in line and listening to volunteers in their blue suits. The project is one of more than 100 frontline food banks, pantries and waste food ventures that now operate locally, trying to meet demand. BeKind founder Yasmin Paulson said the need was not so great.

The growing demand here is that Birmingham Live has launched the #FoodSOS campaign. In partnership with charities and initiatives to put food on the table of strugglers, we want to increase the help available, and point out the need to help those in need in their communities.

Jasmine tells us later: “We were seeing around 80 here earlier this year – tonight we fed 130 people. Last week it was 140, which was a record for us.” She adds: “The population of the people in the queue is also changing.”

“We are seeing more people in the city who are homeless and living in shared homes and HMOs, as well as the elderly, the disabled or those working,” he said. Rising food, fuel and transportation costs, coupled with cuts in wages and benefits, are making life incredibly difficult for thousands more pensioners, young families and workers.

Christine is not the only pensioner in the queue – a gray haired man is making a fuss with the queue, his jumper hole is broken, looking up briefly to discuss with one of the smiling volunteers but Otherwise keep your eyes down. He looks thin and hopeless.

Julie, left, with one of the amazing volunteers of the BeKind project

Julie Hands, 55, is from Worth. She lives in a shared home, where she is thought to be receiving regular help from a support worker to help her deal with her mental health problems. But she says the worker only arrives when his service charge is due.

She cries when I ask her what life is like for her. “It’s awful. It’s one of the highlights of my week, you know? Sometimes I think there’s no point in staying here. I think a lot about jumping off buildings.” She is seeking help from her GP and a mental health charity and later says she is ‘just getting better’, but volunteers have the same problem.

Anita And Maxine, Volunteers From The Bekind Charity
Anita and Maxine, volunteers from the BeKind charity

Debbie, who is blind, walks with the help of a white cane. She had already picked up her lunch bag and was waiting for a hot drink and something to eat, but suddenly left the line and sat down on a nearby bench, and began to cry. Volunteer Ryan, who is part of the charity’s security team, goes to check on her – she says someone in the queue was making her very anxious and now she doesn’t know if she will get food or not.

She’s also a regular, she tells me. She comes here and on another food project every week, trying to maximize her profits. She clings to my arm, telling me she can’t eat much, and that she feels very lonely. “Thank you for treating me well. Everyone is fine here, but some people are very dirty,” she says. Sweet Ryan brings her some food and a mix, and helps replenish her shopping spree.

Thousands of people in Birmingham, Black Country and Solihull are suffering because of the crisis of life. People who are already on the bread line are being crushed by rising energy, food and fuel bills.

On the food front line, campaigners and charities are reporting record levels of demand and need while donations are drying up. Pensioners, working poor, young parents trying to keep families together and vulnerable people in relief shelters and hostels are among those facing the scorching heat.

But together we can make a difference.

We have joined forces. Active Wellbeing Society They help integrate the excellent network of food banks, food pantries, community projects, PSU-Fail Cafe, Iman and civic organizations that offer free or cheap food in Birmingham, Black Country and Solihull.

We have together. Announced #FoodSOS.

Local councils, social services and schools are doing what they can to help those most in need. Government payments, rebates and grants are helping. But there is still a disappointing shortcoming.

There are three ways you can help.

Donate your money. Through the community JustGiving collection. One penny will go to the food front line for funding food and essentials.

Donate food. For your nearest community food operation

Donate your time. Volunteer to help food banks, collect food, cook or serve food to customers in cafes, or distribute parcels. If you are a community group or corporate organization that would like to sign up together, please get in touch.

If you need help please click here. Map of #FoodSOS To find a place near you.

Map of #FoodSOS

Thanks together we can make a difference. #FoodSOS

Stuart Mee, 51, a security sales consultant, is one of the volunteers to help. He has been sorting out fruit and vegetable offerings, and has been helping for months. “A friend asked me to help because the numbers were growing, and once I got there I couldn’t say it again.”

Anita Terry, who works in a hotel in Solihull, and Maxine Wilman – who is currently hosting a refugee family in Ukraine, are also proud volunteers. “But by the grace of God many of us go there, and the cost of the crisis of life is bringing this house to many people.”

About the BeKind Project

Yasmin Paulson launched the BeKind initiative during the epidemic, initially focusing on providing barriers to thank NHS heroes on the code front line. But seeing the effects of local poverty forced him to change his mind.

In June 2021, with the help of five other volunteers, it launched this weekly initiative to provide food and toilets to those who use the food bank, women’s shelters and the homeless and vulnerable. With the help of sponsors, they provide essentials to those who have the least, without any decision.

Less Fresh Fruit Delivery - It'S All Over In Half An Hour.
Less fresh fruit delivery – it’s all over in half an hour.

Every Monday night they set up under the roof of the former House of Fraser department store in Temple Row, helping and comforting men and women in need. Their partners include Greggs, Morrisons, Tesco and Co-Op, and work with FareShare, a charity dedicated to reducing food waste through surplus and end-of-day product distribution. Is.

“We see pensioners, working people who have low pay, people who are stuck without any benefits, they are probably waiting for the first payment, and those who just can’t raise their money. They have paid their rent, or set aside service charges, and money for gas and electricity, they have not much left. If prices continue like this, more people will soon be in that position. ” He added.

Feeling we have ‘Run out of gas’ emotionally? Email [email protected] or leave your comments in the comments below.

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