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Photos of Food Banks in the UK During Coronavirus

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As coronavirus lockdowns around the world ground economies to a halt, food banks in various countries have seen a huge surge in demand. UK-based photographer Charlie Clift started volunteering at his local food bank and then decided to document the situation with his camera.

The Trussell Trust, which runs roughly 1,200 food banks across the UK, says it has seen an 89% increase in demand due to the pandemic.

“I want to work, but I have no prospect of getting a salary until there’s a vaccine,” a skilled health care worker named Anna tells Clift. “When I was at a low ebb, the fact that someone had put so much thought into a food parcel touched me, it really and truly did.”

The South London Warehouse Food Bank has taken over St Margret the Queen church in Streatham since the coronavirus hit the UK.
Pauline has been volunteering at the food bank for years, but has stepped up to volunteer for a shift every day of the working week since lockdown.
Bez is a volunteer at the Bonny Downs Food Bank in Newham, East London.
A visitor is assessed by volunteer at the Bonny Downs Food Bank in Newham, East London.
Paddy used to homeless and was helped at Bonny Downs to get back on his feet. He is now employed at the Bonny Downs Community Association to help provide support.
One ton of food – the South London Food Bank Warehouse sends out at least this amount each day to people in need.
An emergency food parcel ready for delivery.
Anna (not her real name) is a skilled healthcare worker employed by a private company but a genetic disorder means she is vulnerable and cannot see patients face to face. “I want to work, but I have no prospect of getting a salary until there’s a vaccine,” she says. Her income almost disappeared overnight when she suddenly found herself on statutory sick pay. She gets just £95.85 each week and cannot cover all her living costs. The food bank has been vital for her. “When I was at a low ebb, the fact that someone had put so much thought into a food parcel touched me, it really and truly did.”⁠⠀
Salina has been going to the Bonny Downs Food Bank since loosing her ability to work. She was working as a cruise ships customs officer. Her knee injury means she can’t work, and she’s on a zero hours contract so doesn’t get sick pay.
Stuart works at Oasis (Waterloo’s food bank – one of the six food banks that have joined forces to make the South London Warehouse). He is photographed here in a ZipVan, the company has given their vans for a massive discount to the food bank for exclusive use for many weeks. As well as delivering food he’s also delivering computers to people who don’t have any digital access in their household, this is another charity initiative.
Rebekah is the food bank manager at Waterloo Foodbank, part off the network of food banks that have joined forces to make the South London Warehouse.

“I saw huge amounts of food and essential items coming and going each day, I just couldn’t believe how much the warehouse was giving out,” Clift says. “When I talked to the people who had been working there longer, they told me of the dramatic rise in demand since the lockdown started – it was shocking.”

Young volunteers help stack shelves with donated good at the South London Food Bank Warehouse.
Tony is a volunteer at the Bonny Downs Food Bank in Newham, East London.
Rehan
An emergency food parcel ready to be sent out for delivery.
“Schools and venues closed, so my income closed,” says Antiqu’e, a freelance musician and artists who lives with her 16 year old son, “that is my livelihood, that’s how I pay my bills, my whole earning ability shut down.”
Levine, a volunteer at the Bonny Downs Food Bank.
Donated items are sorted at the South London Food Bank Warehouse.
Nicola, a volunteer at the South London Food Bank Warehouse.
Community donations are unloaded at the food bank.

In April, South London Food Bank Warehouse (where Clift volunteers) fed 3,600 people — three times the usual number for that month.

“I realized this must also be happening across the nation, so I started documenting it with my camera,” Clift says.

Michael sits with his emergency food parcel before leaving the Bonny Downs Food Bank.
Tinned food at the Bonny Downs Food Bank.
Phil uses his time off to volunteer. British Gas allow him to use their van to help the food bank. He drops off donations from supermarkets.
Elaine has been volunteering at the food bank for a while and has seen the dramatic changes it’s gone through during lockdown.
Jo is a volunteer at the South London Food Bank Warehouse who has been coming since lockdown. She works freelance, but work has dried up since lockdown. She wanted to do something to help her community.
Joanna volunteers at the Bonny Downs Food Bank.
A woman collected her food parcel at the Bonny Downs Food Bank in East London.
Each food parcel is packed for the individual needs of a family.

“There’s a wonderful positive atmosphere in the food banks, everyone is friendly, no-one is judged, it’s so welcoming,” Clift says. “But when you chat to one of the people receiving food you discover just how difficult their life is.”

Marc has been volunteering for a long time at the Bonny Downs Food Bank.
UHT milk is stacked up at the Food Bank Warehouse.
Claire works for a social enterprise called Baloo that normally supplies the hospitality sector . Their work has dried up off, so she’s been volunteering at the food bank delivering parcels from her pickup truck.
Jade was forced to become homeless when she left an abusive relationship. She has been coming to Bonny Downs Food Bank to feed herself.
Food supplies ready to be packed at the Bonny Downs Food Bank.
Phoebe is a freelance film producer working in advertising. As productions have ground to a halt due to the virus she is using her spare time to volunteer at the foodbank and has found she’s really enjoyed having purposeful work during this strange time.
Chris is a volunteer at the South London Food Bank Warehouse.
Sarah-Jane is a part time employee of the South London Food Bank Warehouse. She joined recently to help in the current situation. She’s in charge of making sure the shelves are kept in stock and that all the food is stored safely, plus managing the large group of volunteers.

If you’d like to help food banks across the UK, you can visit the Trussell Trust website to donate or leave items in the drop box at your local supermarket (if you’re in the UK). If you’d like to help food banks across the US, you can visit Feeding America.


Image credits: Photographs by Charlie Clift and used with permission

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