There are now at least 20 food banks in the Hampshire area, including some of the wealthiest parts of the county. They cover rural and urban locations, with approximately 50% affiliated to the Trussel Trust.
The research commissioned by the Bill Sargent Trust reinforced the findings of national research. Users generally go to food banks only when other options have been exhausted, and often feel shame and embarrassment about having to ask for help. They are living ‘on the edge’ and many have multiple problems including physical disabilities, illnesses, and mental health problems.
What food banks consistently offer, as well as emergency help, is a listening ear and a generous and compassionate response. This is sometimes in stark contrast to users’ experiences of statutory services. Food bank users are often surprised and pleased to be treated with respect and sensitivity.