Early and anecdotal reports from a group of university researchers working at Brixton Advice Centre (BAC) reveal high levels of financial hardship and anxiety.
But they also reveal how important the work of the centre is in tackling these problems.
Edwina, who is leading the researchers from University College London, is also a volunteer at Brixton Foodbank.
“One day one of the clients I met at BAC recognised me from my volunteering role at Brixton Foodbank,” she says.
“I couldn’t immediately place her because the last time I had seen her, just before Christmas, had been at the foodbank and she had been in tears, incredibly upset and looking very depressed.
“She had just found out that her benefits had been ‘sanctioned’ and showed me the letter from DWP (Department for Work & Pensions), crying her heart out.
“I had referred her to Nathan, one of the advisers from BAC, who was staffing the regular advice session that BAC holds at the foodbank.
“Now here we are months later and she looked a different person – she told me how BAC had helped her to appeal against the decision and her benefits had been reinstated.
“She had nothing but praise and gratitude for help provided by team at BAC.
“Foodbank volunteers rarely have the chance to know whether the clients we meet ultimately have their issues resolved.
These kind of partnerships are an incredibly effective way of supporting people in crisis
“So to know this person got the help she needed really made my day and also highlighted to me the importance of foodbanks working with local advice centres. These kind of partnerships are an incredibly effective way of supporting people in crisis.”
Despite their financial hardship, very few of the people the researchers spoke to had been to or even heard of foodbanks.
The team plans to continue its research at BAC until the end of next months and to present its findings at the centre.
The results will also be submitted to an academic journal and publicised at major public health conferences to increase awareness of the difficulties facing people living in food poverty.