I held out my my hand for help, and my hometown Kirkcaldy held it back

I used Kirkcaldy Foodbank once.

It started with looking at cupboard shelves filled only with a half jar of coffee and crackers.

I was tired, so tired of pretending everything was okay when I was struggling to cope.

Moving from one job to another, my salary dipped, and I found myself budgeting like never before.

Foodbanks have become lifelines for so many people across Fife

The signs were there, putting a biscuit in my pocket to eat later or rationing meals to last over five days when it should have been two. I drank water, telling myself I was being healthy.

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Then I started to develop headaches because I was not eating enough.

The mere thought of asking for help from my loving family and friends made me wince with shame and pride was the only defence I had left.

Pic: Fife Photo Agency

In that moment staring at the near empty cupboard, I was hungry, angry, frustrated, and tearful.

I Googled Kirkcaldy Foodbank days before and looked at the referral methods before clicking off the page. I took the coward’s way out and sent an e-mail directing me to their local centre. I remember crying on the drive down, conscious I had just enough to petrol to last until my travel expenses came in.

Walking in, I was approached by a lady who ushered me discreetly into a small office. She smiled at me kindly and I started to cry.

She pass held my hand, and,, for a moment there was silence as I tried to stop the tears I had been fighting for months.

How can an adult working full-time be able to pay their bills but not have a penny left for food? To this day, I still do not have the answer.

As I left, she patted my hand, and told me to “stay strong.” I cannot thank this lady enough for offering me dignity, respect, and strength when I needed it most.

Nowadays, I’m in a good job with a decent wage. I know how incredibly lucky I am.

Though food deprivation has a legacy. I always must make sure I have ‘food in’ and I feel nervous at the thought of running out.

Given the challenges our community is facing this year with rising costs, my one experience pales in comparison to others.

Months ago, a friend of mine in a local supermarket overheard a couple of young men in the baby food aisle talking about which baby jars were the best to live on to make your money last. It still makes me tearful.

Kirkcaldy faces many challenges. We may never get the fabled Primark, however, one thing we do possess is a caring community with a ground swell of people who when they see desperate need rush to fill it with offers of help and more.

My experience of local community groups and charities including Linton Lane Centre and Nourish Support Centre has only strengthened this belief.

I don’t know if you will ever find yourself in similar circumstances, but please know I see you and I hear you.

It’s okay to ask for help. Take a step forward and, as the kind lady at Kirkcaldy Foodbank, said, stay strong.

I am here to tell you I’m so glad I reached my hand out because my hometown Kirkcaldy held it back.