Posted: 28 March 2019

Panic at the food bank: how young people feel when times get tough

We caught up with Jim Davis who visited a food bank to talk to young people about how they felt about local support in times of crisis.

He tells us what happened when he met a 13 year old girl at a local food bank.

Crisis can expose young people in ways that can humiliate and hurt them

It is often assumed that young people aren’t always aware of what financial difficulties their families are in. In my experience young people are not only aware but they do their best to reduce their financial expectations within the family. 

More than anything else, young people do their utmost to blend in and hide their difficulties at home so that friends and peers don’t see them as different. However, sometimes a crisis can expose young people in ways that can humiliate and hurt them.

How young people feel when times get tough

Sitting in a quiet corner of the church hall where the food bank was set up, one 13 year old girl came over to me and wanted to say something about school. She was frustrated with the costs of school trips that seemed to be out of reach to her. 

While we were chatting a group of young people came into the hall. The young person in front of me froze, sunk down in her seat and looked frantically for a way out. The group were part of a volunteering scheme designed to get young people involved in the community. 

'...the panic on her face was painful.'

There was no way for the young person opposite to get out without being seen. All I could do was shift my chair to block her from view while her eyes darted back and forth across the hall watching the young people move about shifting boxes of food. 

At last, the young people left the hall and she dashed from her seat to exit the hall with her mum carrying a supermarket carrier bag of donated food.

Being in crisis is bad enough, but being seen to be in crisis can be crushing

Being in crisis is bad enough, being seen to be in crisis and to be in need because of what is happening in your family is a crushing experience for young people. 

How we support people in crisis matters, how young people can be protected from the scrutiny and judgement of their peers matters because it matters so much to them. If we care about young people, it should matter to us as well.

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