Currently, the UK stands one of the most economically unequal countries in Europe. As a result, in 2019, food poverty has become increasingly prevalent. The number of food banks has soared since the early 2000s and Trussell Trust alone have seen a 73% increase in the amount of emergency food parcels administered in the last 5 years. In the context of Lincoln, the impact of inequality has resulted in a rise in dependence on food charities, for which two types exist. One is the traditional method of food banks; a pragmatic response aiming to focus purely on the food aspect of food poverty. The other is the informal alternative of Rescue Cafés, aiming to eliminate the negative, often demoralising experience of asking for help, providing a social space rather than a food help space. Moreover, while both spaces are centred around food the two spaces have very different impacts on the wellbeing of users. The Rosemary Lane Community Larder is a smaller space providing emergency food parcels through referral forms whilst the Mint Lane Café provides a bigger space where people can receive a hot meal, socialise, shower, wash their clothes and even apply for free counselling. Food security and more importantly the barriers to accessing help has huge impacts for wellbeing. This project engages with the volunteers and clients of these spaces. Observational and interview-based research methods have been used with the aim of validating spaces like Mint Lane which serve a dual purpose; providing wellbeing support without institutional barriers. Simultaneously, the project aims to highlight the barriers as well as the wellbeing experience of volunteering and attending a food bank, stressing that they are often unable to provide such extensive services like Mint Lane because of size and training constraints. Moreover, their growing significance remains an important response for those who experience food poverty considering the UKs current political economy.
Key Words: Food banks, Rescue cafes, Food bank alternatives, Emotional experience, wellbeing, political economy, inequality
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