Kelly Blakeley, a Leeds local, has been struggling to afford food for herself and her cat since she lost her job early in the pandemic
Image: Samuel Port)
A woman who lost her retail job early in the pandemic “lived on beans and toast” to feed her beloved cat when money was tight.
Leeds’ Kelly Blakeley has been struggling to afford food for herself and her cat since losing her job in 2020.
The 41-year-old loves her cat Tigger, a tabby cat she rescued from the streets, to the point where she’s putting his needs first.
That said the former retail clerk who is now receiving unemployment benefits LeedsLive : “No matter how much money I have left over after paying the bills, no matter if I could afford to buy food for myself, my cat always came first and I always came second.
However, in August last year, Kelly found a lifeline in the form of a St Giles Trust pantry in Chapeltown, Leeds. The food bank allows those in need to fill up two large bags of groceries for as little as £3.50.
“So I could live on beans and toast for a fortnight to feed my cat. I’ve lived on beans on toast and eggs on toast.
“Since I came here, as you can see, I can get a full store. With the cooked meat they make, I get it mostly for my cat. If I can’t afford cat food, I know my cat has something to eat.”
The plaque, located on Saville Mount, has been open for around 18 months.
The staff understand that accepting help with necessities such as food can be embarrassing and challenging for those in need, so have tried to make the visit as comfortable as possible.
There is a comfortable sofa for people to sit on along with a coffee table and a rug making the center cozy. Staff offer cups of tea or coffee while chatting to people who come to support.
Sybil Beckford, a grandmother of one and mother of three, said she struggled to pay for the food before attending the food bank. The 74-year-old cleaning lady told how she often couldn’t pay the bill at the supermarket counter, surprised by the rising prices of groceries.
Sybil said: “This place makes a big difference.
“When you go into town to buy certain things, the prices just keep going up. I’m one of those people who chooses [an item] to the store and don’t look at the price. Then when I take it to the counter, I can’t pay for it.”
St Giles Trust staff provide a range of services including support for ex-convicts rehabilitating into society, vulnerable women, children and families.
Gill Gaunt, the head of community service delivery, said: “We like to be informal so people can come in and have a chat with us, it’s all confidential, about any issues they might have. Some people come in who have problems with social services, around their children, and we offer a lot of advice.”
The 49-year-old, who has been part of the Trust for 10 years, adds: “We wanted to make it feel like anyone who comes here can just chat with us. I’m kind of a manager here, but I’m just like everyone else.”
Eva Bennett-Gibson, who has worked there as a child and family clerk since 2019, can often be seen loading people’s shopping bags with all the groceries.
“People know they can come here and take home some food without being judged and not looked down on,” Eva said.
“You know that we are here with open doors. We support when people come in and show them around, making sure they know there is support at all times and we are here to help.”
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/woman-who-lost-job-lived-26682658 A woman who lost her job "lived on beans and toast" for weeks to feed her cat