Our service is confidential and as such, we don’t ask our clients to speak about their experiences to the press or public so that we can keep their details private. However, we do want to be able to describe the kinds of people who come to see us and the situations that they find themselves in so we have started a new series called ‘Tales of the Listeners’. Each month, one of our listening team will talk about the experience of being a listener, and the stories that they’ve heard recently that have stuck in their minds.
First up is our listener Pauline.
“I saw a client who had been abused, both mentally and physically. She had been moved away from her own area for safety reasons and put into emergency accommodation in our area. Because the move had been so quick and total, she had very few possessions to speak of and all the social support mechanisms hadn’t taken effect yet so she had enough money for electricity for a few days but couldn’t afford food as well.”
Another client who Pauline remembered was going through the following circumstances:
“One that will always stay with me was an ex-soldier who obviously had PTSD and was living rough. His condition had caused him to be withdrawn and he suffered extreme mood swings which led to him losing his family and the business he had started. He was helping someone who was less able-bodied than him and the details he gave me about surviving on the streets, trying to get a wash in the public toilets and keeping his clothes clean, showed that he was trying to keep his pride and his dignity in tact but getting food was proving too hard for his resourcefulness. Some of our clients find themselves in incredibly difficult situations.”
We asked Pauline which clients surprised her:
“I hadn’t thought about children coming out of care and what happened to them afterwards and how much support they got after they were 16. It hadn’t crossed my radar before I volunteered at the Food Bank. They don’t tell you their individual stories – they’re usually too shy and overwhelmed by it all. Sometimes they have one or two friends in the foyer of the Foodbank with them for support. They are given their ‘starter’ box and food supplies until their benefits are established.”
Thanks to Pauline for sharing her story and for her amazing work being part of our listening team. They do a great job to provide a warm welcome to clients and to listen to their stories and lend a sympathetic ear when life feels really tough.