Universal Credit left gran with ‘1p since January and going days without food’

Grandmother Catherine Apted has spoken about how losing her job left her on the breadline in Greater Manchester

Quoted from The Mirror:

‘A grandmother has shared heartbreaking details about the plight Universal Credit has left her in.

Catherine Apted said she has received just 1p since January.

The 45-year-old spoke to the Manchester Evening News at Connect Church, the home of the Eccles branch of Salford Foodbank, clutching two bags full of tins of food and toiletries to take home to her family.

Catherine lost her job at the start of the year.

She says she hasn’t received any Universal Credit payments, apart from a one-off 1p payment.

It’s due to an ongoing payment dispute with her previous employer. Until that’s sorted, Catherine will continue to struggle.

She was put in touch with volunteers at the Salford food bank through her housing officer.

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“If you close those centres, it doesn’t mean the demand goes down” – Mervyn Gledhill(Image: MEN Media)

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Catherine says she gets payments for her gas and electricity bills through Salford Assist, a council scheme that provides short term support for people in crisis.

For a while after losing her job, she says, she went ‘days and days’ without eating.

“I’ve probably lost a stone since all this started,” Catherine said. “Without [the foodbank] I’d be dead.”

The food bank is a lifeline for a great many people.

But it’s one of two centres at risk of closure due to a lack of funds.

There were only two Salford food banks – at Mocha Parade and The Sanctuary – until 18 months ago, when a council grant meant Salford Foodshare Network volunteers, backed by the Trussell Trust, were able to expand into Eccles and Swinton.

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Valuable services are currently under threat(Image: Manchester Evening News)

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The money was also used to buy a van to deliver food to the centres.

Food bank bosses were expecting a further grant this year, but they haven’t received any money – meaning they may have to close the Swinton and Eccles centres.

Catherine, who has applied for scores of jobs since January, says she wouldn’t be able to pay the bus fare to travel to Mocha Parade in Lower Broughton. It’s a 10-mile round trip.

For now, she relies on handouts at the Eccles food bank for herself, her teenage daughter and her Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

Catherine says she wouldn’t be able to survive without the service and thinks it’s ‘disgusting’ it might have to close.

“Without this I’d have nothing,” she added.

“I’ve never been out of work in my life. My daughter is only on an apprenticeship, she’s not in a position on £3 an hour to help.

“The food bank is very important. Before I’d have thought ‘I’m not going in one of them’.

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Provisions at the Salford Foodbank in Greater Manchester(Image: Manchester Evening News)

“But they don’t judge you here. They make you feel at ease.

“I’ve gone for days without eating. It’s a lifeline. Even if it’s a tin of beans, it’s something to fill me up.

“I can get all my toiletries. My daughter is 19; she needs her sanitary products.”

Food bank coordinator Mervyn Gledhill drives the delivery van to drop off food at centres.

At a guess, the 72-year-old says around 100 people rely on the Eccles and Swinton centres each week.

The true number of people needing help is far greater – some people collect food and other items for large families.

“If you close those centres, it doesn’t mean the demand goes down,” Mervyn said.

“It just means that the people who go to those centres would have to go to Mocha Parade. If people don’t have enough money for food, they don’t have enough money for buses.”

Alyson Entwistle, 53, has been volunteering at the Eccles centre since November.

She says: “I was shocked [when I heard it’s at risk].

“This is a fundamental service for the people in this community. If there wasn’t this service it would put people into real crisis. We can’t allow that to happen.” … ‘

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