We recognised that young people across the North West are becoming increasingly reliant on food banks to ensure their survival. We were aware that there is a common misperception that the use of food banks is restricted to hard-up working families or older unemployed people. The reality, however, is that many young people are using food banks as a necessity to eke out a modest survival existence. Some of the neediest of young people are disadvantaged by lack of work, erratic employment, zero-hour contracts, domestic problems, poor or non-existent housing and, consequently, low expectations.
We discussed these issues with our young people and they were angered by the fact that one of the richest countries in the world is not effectively supporting and enabling the most vulnerable people, equally that some people in power were ignorant of this reality.
Thanks to financial support from the Lancashire Social Impact fund we commissioned a young emerging film company, Irregular Galaxies, to train our young people to become documentary filmmakers. The team met monthly to define a narrative, create a storyboard and to interview staff and young people at food banks in Lancaster, Morecambe and Liverpool. The film is now complete and will be used as a stimulus for a public debate in early spring 2019, thereby raising awareness of these issues.
In early summer we are holding a community event in Lancaster to discuss what our young people learned about both the use of food banks in our area and to explore how we can help to tackle the problem locally in the future.