AddThis SmartLayers

Regional journalists ‘next in line for food banks’ as financial struggles revealed

Paul BreedenRegional journalists have opened up about the financial struggles they face amid concerns reporters may soon turn to food banks to survive.

A number of journalists working in the industry have come forward to share their own personal stories of the cost-of-living crisis, with the Journalists’ Charity revealing it has received more grant applications from those in their 30s and 40s than ever before.

Ahead of the recent strike at Reach plc, which led to a new pay settlement, National Union of Journalists Bristol branch treasurer Paul Breeden, pictured, claimed some journalists were already having to use food banks to feed their families.

Now, the issue has been explored further in a piece for the union’s magazine The Journalist, headlined ‘Next in line for foodbanks?’, by an anonymous Reach staffer writing under the pen name ‘Reginald Haque’.

The Journalist’s feature told the story of an anonymous 34-year-old journalist working in the North-West of England, who has a four-year-old child and a newborn baby with her husband.

‘Reginald’ wrote: “The couple were managing financially until [the journalist] took extended maternity leave because their baby was experiencing health issues.

“Then their bills surged with the lifting of the energy price cap. They used up their overdraft. Then they took out a small loan to help get by.

“That led to another. Even though she has now returned to work, with costs rising further, there is little hope of the couple paying off their debts and a greater chance of them falling behind again.”

The journalist in question then turned to the Journalists’ Charity, which offered debt advice and a cash payment.

James Brindle, the charity’s chief executive, told The Journalist the average age of applicants had dropped from 64 in 2006 and 58 in 2011 to 43 last year, while bids for financial assistance from the charity increased by 50pc from June to July.

He also noted it was “more normal” to receive applications from households where both applicants are working,

James told The Journalist: “More journalists in their 30s and 40s are coming to us than ever before. In 2005, those age groups would have made up single-digit percentages of the total caseload. Now it’s the majority.”

* Are you a regional journalist who has had to make use of a food bank or is contemplating doing so? Share your experience with us at [email protected].   The Journalists’ Charity can be contacted via email at [email protected] or by phone on 01306 887511.