Stigma, shame and 'people like us': an ethnographic study of foodbank use in the UK

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Foodbanks and other charitable activities are fast becoming an established part of austerity Britain. This paper is based on ethnographic research undertaken over a two-year period in North East England, exploring the lived experiences of health inequalities for residents in the most and least affluent areas. Findings show how the majority of foodbank users experienced stigma, fear, and embarrassment, which was at times aggravated by representations in 'poverty porn' television shows. Stigma could be overcome once people recognised that 'other people like us' were receiving a food parcel. Finally, the practice of 'Othering' was evident across the research sites.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-289
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Poverty and Social Justice
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016


  • 'othering', welfare reform, foodbanks, poverty, shame, stigma