Case study: Nurse speaks of appreciation for Norwich Foodbank

Family nurse Lisa Emmerson sees every day at first hand the desperate need for the foodbank.

As a nurse at the Family Nurse Partnership, which supports about 150 young first-time mothers in Norfolk, she works with some of the most vulnerable people.

Too young to work or receive benefits and sometimes struggling with debt, mental health issues or domestic violence, dozens of young mothers and families are finding themselves unable to put food on the table. Mrs Emmerson said: 'There isn't a day goes by that a nurse or two isn't going to the foodbank. On Friday, a colleague went and cleared out the foodbank in Nelson Street.'

The FNP's use of the foodbank is increasing, with debt, domestic violence, and changes and delays to benefit payments being the most common reasons. 'As a healthcare provider we are dealing with the most vulnerable members in society.

'And if you are under 16 and unable to claim and your family are unable to support you then that makes you even more vulnerable,' she said.

The nurses work with clients on 'self-efficacy' – encouraging them into education and teaching budgeting skills in an effort to help them escape the cycle of benefits dependency – but even for young couples who are both in work, making ends meet can be tough, said Mrs Emmerson. 'It's not uncommon for us to hear 'We've not eaten for two days, but we make sure our children are fed'.'

Without facilities such as the foodbank, families would be left high and dry. 'We are using it more and more,' said Mrs Emmerson. 'And I don't think it's going to get better quickly.'

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