This study was conducted by Healthwatch’s Community Engagement Officer, who visited 5 food banks across the boroughs of Bromley and Lewisham. Those in attendance were informally interviewed about their experiences of accessing health and social care services and the circumstances which has caused them to access community services in the borough.
Overall, our research suggest that:
- Those suffering from financial hardship are more likely to suffer from lower standards of physical health and mental wellbeing.
- Zero hour contracts and unsecure employment often leaves people without sufficient resources to support themselves and their families, and thus become dependent on local support, such as food banks.
- Lack of communication between services means people are susceptible to falling through the gaps. This was most evident with benefit processing and a delay in payments, often for reasons unknown to the claimant.
- GP registration and access to primary care was severely restricted by a lack of permanent address, despite legislation stating that it is not a necessary requirement.
- Those who were already at risk were unable to support themselves in day to day life and as a result remained susceptible to further health complications.