A photography exhibition, recently opened at Durham Town Hall, aims to give the public an insight into the daily life of a food bank. Photographer Carl Joyce, thirty-one, spent ten weeks working with the West End Food Bank in Newcastle, which is Britain’s busiest. Carl’s project began as an assignment for his university degree, but he soon became intrigued by the work of the food bank and by the daily struggles of the people who use it.
Carl, who is currently finishing off his final year on a video and photography degree at Sunderland University, commented, “Over ten weeks I was allowed inside Newcastle’s West End Food Bank, meeting the people who work there and those who wouldn’t survive without it. With this project, I would like to challenge the belief that people are using food banks as a matter of choice. The continuous news reports reflecting this issue are causing anxiety and feelings of insecurity in certain families, some of which have already experienced the effects of the financial cuts.”
Carl added, “I aim to bring to life the media reports and statistics by showing what the reality is for people relying on Britain’s busiest food bank in this day and age. The latest government decision to decrease benefits has been met with prevailing resentment within society. To combat the increasing numbers of people in need, food banks are opening throughout the country at an alarming rate. In the last five years, the amount of food bank users has gone from under 25,000 to over 1 million and shows no signs of slowing.”
Some organisations feel that food bank use is only one symptom of a more widespread ‘food insecurity’. A survey by the think tank Food Foundation in May found that more than 8 million UK residents struggle to feed themselves adequately, with around 4.7 million sometimes going for a whole day without food.
Carl’s exhibition will be open to the public for the next two months.
This is not the first time Carl Joyce’s work has focused on social issues in the north east. He has produced an e-book entitled A Miner’s Son, which examines the impact of the closure of the mines thirty years ago on his home village of Horden Colliery. You can learn more by visiting Carl’s website at www.carljoyce.co.uk