A starving young mother reached a crisis point this week after she ran out of money to feed her family and believed her children would be “better off without her”, a landlady who provides food parcels said.
In a sign of the devastating effect of the cost of living crisis, Pauline Town, who runs The Station pub in Ashton-under-lyne, Greater Manchester, told i the mother arrived at her door with her young daughters on Monday morning and revealed she had no food for the rest of the week.
Describing the mother’s situation, Ms Town said: “Her electricity bill has gone through the roof… it’s taking all her child benefit to cover just that and she simply can’t make ends meet.
“She’s embarrassed at having to ask for help, she feels like a failure as a mum – which she absolutely isn’t – and I brought her inside to give her a little privacy and to get her some help.
“She admitted that she’d actually considered taking the children to school, then going home and taking her own life, because she felt that they’d be better off without her.”
Ms Town gave the mother a food parcel – one of at least 100 a day she has been handing out – and set her up with some long-term help. “Thank God she didn’t go through with that and she stopped long enough to realize that she couldn’t do that to [her children],” she added.
The landlady said she has seen a rise in working parents who are regularly going without food themselves for several days to ensure they have enough to feed their children, with those in need now regularly asking for “kettle food” – items that don’t require using gas as they can’t afford to use their cooker.
She said when she offered one of the mother’s litle girls some chocolate biscuits “she was excited all the way to school that there were biscuits for after tea tonight”.
A friend and local artist, Joe Solo, also donated some of his children’s books to the family. “[The mother] sat a photo of the two little girls in bed with Joe’s books last night saying, ‘Thank you for making sure I’m still here’,” Ms Town said.
“I just sat down and wept. We could have lost an incredible lady and those children could have lost a wonderful mum who just for a few minutes felt like they’d be better off without her.
“And all it took to save that tragedy from happening was for her to be able to have a little help and someone to tell her that she is not on her own,” she said.
“A food parcel and a hug, not a lot in the grand scheme of things, but the world when you have nothing.”
Food bank providers have repeatedly warned that they are “terrified” by the sharp rise in demand in recent months as the cost of living crisis has escalated.
Lindsay Boswell, chief executive of FareShare, which distributes food to frontline charities, said demand is “as high as it’s ever been”, with 90 per cent of charities reporting increased need.
Meanwhile, the governor of the Bank of England Andrew Bailey warned On Monday the war in Ukraine would have an “apocalyptic” effect on food prices.
Ms Town, who was awarded an MBE for her work last year, has been helping the needy and homeless for almost a decade but says she’s never been more “terrified”.
“People are really scared,” she said.
“And who knows what we’re getting into by October when they have start putting their heating on again.”
She relies on donations and fundraising and urged anyone who wants to help to donate to their local food bank this week.
You can call the Samaritans for free on 116 123, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit samaritans.org to find your nearest branch