The flick of a switch – Tim’s Story

20th September 2018

Power socket Bournemouth Foodbank switch


“I never thought I would need or use a foodbank.”


In fact from what I had seen on TV I thought it was just for homeless people – or almost homeless people.

A few years ago my savings account held one year’s rent in it at all times. An unfortunate set of events led to me being plunged into total crisis.

After the birth of my first son I had to reduce the amount of work I did to help take care of him, as he was a very challenging child. We used up our savings very quickly due to the reduced income: and because our son kept breaking things that needed to be replaced. At the start of the year we learned that he had Autism, which explained his behaviour.

Fortunately, we had always been very good with food. We have a very large freezer that held almost three months worth of food in it. My second child was born in the new year which put more demand on our income. However, we were getting by.

One afternoon, during the heatwave, I offered my son some ice cream after dinner. I opened up the ice cream and dipped the spoon in, expecting some icy resistance. Instead, the spoon slid through it like a tub of murky milk. Everything in the freezer was warm. The freezer had been turned of by my son, as part of his a new obsession with turning off plug switches.

Not a single item in the freezer was cold. I quickly turned on the freezer and googled what a safe torture of food is to refreeze. Unfortunately the food would not have been safe to keep.

That day I threw away three months worth of meat, vegetables… and ice cream.

We were not in a position to replenish the freezer stock and were low on food anyway due to our careful budgeting. Rent went out the next day, our cupboards were bare and we were suddenly in the position of having no food in the house.

Realistically we had two choices – they were to not pay our rent the next month, or to go to a foodbank. As the first option could have left us in debt and homeless we went to Bournemouth Foodbank.

This was our first time in a foodbank and the staff were very kind and understanding. With our referral we got a box of cupboard food that was enough to mean we need not do a pantry shop. We did our normal fresh food shop and started the process of recovering our food supplies.

Thanks to the foodbank we got back on track. And we now keep an extra close eye on the freezer switch – which has been turned off a further 4 times now!

This experience changed my entire outlook on foodbanks and who uses them. Literally with the flip of a switch we went from ‘getting by’ to total crisis.

We do not envisage ever needing to use the foodbank again and now try to help out by donating a couple of items regularly and volunteering.

I can tell you from my own experience that anyone can find themselves in crisis and need to use a foodbank. A regular donation of even one or two items can significantly change someone’s prospects in life.

Unfortunately, Tim’s story is not uncommon – and your donations can honestly be the difference between families losing their homes and going hungry.

Find out how you can be this difference on our give help page.


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