Marc Collins saw his modest income fall during the pandemic, which put a huge pressure on his finances. But thanks to the Teign Valley Larder, and help from friends, he was still able to put food on the table. Here, he gives a brief account of his experience.
I work at the Haldon Grill. When we went into lockdown, and I was put on furlough, I found myself with quite a small amount of money to survive on.
It’s very difficult to adjust your spending when your income shrinks. Things still need paying for, so you find that some things – like food – go to the bottom of the list of priorities.
I don’t like taking something without paying for it or giving something back, which made the effects of the pandemic even more difficult. However, I’ve got some very close friends who helped me with small loans. It was a tough time, but the pandemic brought out the very best in people.
However, that money soon went – on the electricity meter, on putting diesel in the car – it doesn’t go far. Fortunately, I heard about the Teign Valley Larder, which I used two or three times a week while I was on furlough. I was able to pick up tinned goods mostly – pies, soups, tinned fruit and veg. I took the fresh food when I could, but that got snapped up pretty quickly.
I always exchanged food where possible, because it is very hard taking something for free. There are a lot of people like me who are proud and who wouldn’t admit to using something like the Teign Valley Larder, and that makes poverty a hidden problem. However, it is a great service that really needs to be talked about.
At the end of the day, I was hungry and I needed food.
If I can encourage people in the same boat as me to take food from the larder, then I have helped to pay something back.
Sadly, we are facing a very difficult winter. Gas and electricity prices have already gone up and, combined with the £20 a week reduction in the Universal Credit, I can see a lot of people unable to afford heating and going cold.
The larder won’t solve the problems, but it will help hard working families put food on the table when their income gets stretched.
Fortunately, I am back working at the café. I’m still at a low ebb, but I’ve not had to use the larder recently, and I’m slowly paying people back. However, if I run out of money before I’ve had chance to buy food, I know the larder is there.
With thanks to Marc for allowing us to publish his story under his real name.
The Teign Valley Larder currently spends around £500 a month on keeping the basic items in stock, and we are looking for extra volunteers to help manage the different locations.
If you can donate money (£5 a month?), food, or your time, please get in touch. You can be certain that you will be helping those among us who need it most.