This week's guest blogger is Josh, who talks about his role as a Luton Foodbank Referrer.
Before someone gets a food parcel, they must be assessed by one of our referrers. We have referrers in many partner organisations, such as Luton Council, Citizens Advice, GP surgeries, schools, and nurseries.
Josh is Service Manager for The British Red Cross in Luton, and has been advising immigrants and asylum seekers for the last three years.
"Pre COVID19, we were able to give £10 per person or £30 per family, per week. That's a challenging amount to live on, to put it mildly. In fact, it simply can’t cover their essential expenses. That's why we refer people to Luton Foodbank.
"My organisation is one of many partnered with Luton Foodbank, and can issue a food voucher where appropriate. We're trained to make an impartial assessment of someone's situation, and complete a secure online referral form on their behalf. It's the same process with all Luton Foodbank referrers: Straightforward, fair, and confidential.
"I'll take some details, such as where they're living, and whether they're getting getting financial support. These factors help determine what extra support they’re eligible for.
"When advising clients, I always tell them what to expect from the food bank. Some people don’t realise it’s only temporary support, and not to be relied upon long term. This motivates them to sort out their situation quickly. And signposting them to other sources of support and advice is a standard part of the process.
"Some families aren't even aware that help is available if they find themselves in a difficult situation. For example, I recently helped a family that doesn’t have an immigration status. I put them in touch with Luton Foodbank. Of course, their problems won't disappear overnight, but just not worrying about their kids' next meal...it can make a huge difference.
"We’re ready for all types of scenario, and always have an interpreter on hand, just in case."
If you find yourself in a difficult situation, you can arrange an assessment to find out whether you qualify for a food voucher. Contact details for some of our referring agencies are listed here.
This winter, we are here to help, together.