A report on the experience of people in receipt of fuel and food vouchers from Norwich Foodbank: A qualitative study

Sarah Hanson (Lead Author), Pippa Belderson, Emily Player, Anna Sweeting

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

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Background: For people on very low incomes, both household fuel and food environments are becoming more uncertain. Many households are in precarious situations, having little control over their lives, including making constant trade-offs between heating and eating. In addition to providing emergency food parcels, Norwich Foodbank also supplies emergency fuel payments. Recently they have seen a major uplift in the need for these. As this is a relatively new service, they need to better understand how people are using the service, and how they might improve what they offer.
The brief: The aim of this small qualitative study was to provide independent insights into the experiences of people using fuel and food vouchers at Norwich Foodbank.
What we did: We interviewed six people who had been in receipt of fuel and food vouchers between May and November 2022.
Main findings: The context of all our interviews were the feelings of overwhelming uncertainty that they experienced. Within this, we identified six key themes from the analysis of our interviews: Accessing the service; Shame; Experience of being a user of the service; Seeking help from other services; Planning and trade-offs and Missing out
Suggestions: We identified four recommendations. Firstly, around access to the service, especially for first time users who are in state of denial and shock when they first recognise their need for help with food and fuel. They find it difficult to navigate the system and because they feel guilty about needing to use the service, they don’t like to ask what else they could be entitled to, or what other services are available. Greater clarity in this information would be helpful. Secondly, all our interviews had had acute and complex needs that would have benefited from additional advice. Norwich Foodbank is ideally placed to provide additional support or social prescribing to meet people’s needs in a holistic way. There was a recognition that people were at ‘rock bottom’ before they sought help and that a food parcel or fuel voucher was only a temporary respite and that a follow-up phone call to check up on them and their needs could be really helpful. Finally, advice around cooking with slow cookers and the ingredients in the food parcel and energy saving advice, as people are currently doing this via Google but would appreciate it coming directly from a trustworthy source.
Original languageEnglish
Commissioning bodyNorwich Foodbank
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2023

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