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Feeding the UK: LBC Radio caller shocks listeners by describing how he can't afford to eat

A London radio station has received a distressing phonecall from a man who said he is too poor to feed himself properly, the same day a damning report revealed the shocking scale of food waste in the UK.

Mike, 35, from New Cross, London, told LBC’s James O’Brien that after he was made redundant, his marriage quickly broke down, and he now struggles to by food.

“I live in a tiny room [...] and you have to go to food banks, and sometimes I’m living off a tin of spaghetti a day, or a tin of beans, and there are people out there who really are struggling, and it’s not fun.”

He went on to hit back at the idea that poor people are to blame for their situations, and said that he had always lived according to the rules.

His voice breaking with emotion, he said: “For these people to sit there to say, “Oh, go and get a job” – I’m out there every day, looking and searching, and you know you’re trying to do it on your own, but you can’t, and it gets harder and harder."

 “Sometimes I can’t eat, I don’t eat,” he said.

Responding to O’Brien’s suggesting that many people regard the UK benefits system as adequate, he stressed “it’s nowhere near” and said he doesn’t own a TV and described buying batteries for his radio as “an extravagance”.

“Some of us are proud, some of us are proud and trying to get by, but sometimes you have to go to a food bank. You have to, you don’t have any choice,” he said, before he told listeners that he has resorted to searching for food in supermarket bins.

Concerned listeners quickly took to Twitter to show their sympathy for Mike.

But when O’Brien asked if he could send him some money, Mike refused and said: "Absolutely not. I will not take charity."

"People have no idea. Look, I’m a 35-year-old man, bawling my eyes out on a call-in show, desperate for people to know what it’s like."

His call comes after the ‘Feeding Britain’ cross-party inquiry called for significant changes in handling welfare, and revealed that 4.3 million tonnes of surplus food is being thrown away in Britain every year.

Further reading

We need new premises to keep South Belfast Foodbank going 

Baroness Jenkin: Tory peer claims poor people use food banks because they don’t know how to cook

While the rest of us face austerity, the Lords spends roughly £65,000 a year on champagne, and is refusing to drink anything cheaper

Food banks: Hunger is stalking country, Archbishop of Canterbury tells MPs

Key facts about food bank use

Simon Community NI launch app to help homeless find support

Rise of the food bank in Northern Ireland is worrying

11,000 in Northern Ireland given emergency food parcels

Soup kitchen operator feeding the hungry in Republic of Ireland shuts premises after jail threat 

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