‘People in York use food banks every week. They say they desperately need help’

Stock photograph: Silvia Jansen
7 Feb 2020 @ 7.50 am
| News

Poverty in York has hit the national headlines, with BBC television news reporting that people in the city ‘desperately need help’.

It comes as a report by the York-based Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows the poverty across the UK has increased for children and pensioners over the last five years.

The JRF said that, despite rising levels of employment, in-work poverty has also gone up because often people’s pay, hours, or both, are not enough.

Another key finding is that nearly half of people in this situation have a disability or live with someone who does.

£66 a week

Mary Passeri speaking on the BBC news. Photograph: BBC / screenshot
Reporting from York the BBC news family and education correspondent Frankie McCamley talked to Mary Passeri.

She receives £66 pounds a week to care for her 30-year-old son who has autism. But despite that hardship, Mary has set up a food bank to help others in their position, Adriano’s Zero Waste Supermarket based at Spark:York.

She told the BBC that having to give up work to be a carer had severely damaged her financial prospects.


“Had I been able to work to my qualifications, I’d have been doing very well thank you,” she said

“I have more than enough qualifications to be a headteacher at a school in special education.”

Frankie McCamley reported: “People in York are using food banks on a weekly basis. They say they desperately need help.”

‘Historic opportunity’

JRF executive director Claire Ainsley said:

  • The new Government has an historic opportunity as we enter the 2020s.

    Without a better deal for working families, and a social security system that provides a public service for all of us, the UK faces further division and deeper poverty.

    That better deal needs to encompass the basics we all need, from building new homes to funding social security and bringing better jobs to all parts of the country.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “Tackling poverty will always be a priority for this Government.

“We know that some need more help, which is why we spend over £95 billion a year on working-age benefits.”