Exploring volunteering in a food bank and psychological wellbeing
Armour, Simon; Barton, Gil (2019)


In the context of UK austerity policies, asset-based approaches to health offer an attractive proposition to policy makers, promising to reduce demand while improving psychological wellbeing. However, critics suggest that they may inadvertently contribute to increasing health inequalities
by implicitly endorsing neoliberal discourses, extolling independence and ascribing individual blame for poverty, while denigrating state welfare support. Food banks, as voluntary sector welfare providers, as places of ambiguous and contested meanings, present a salient setting in which to
explore how experiences of volunteering may affect psychological wellbeing. This article provides deep insight into the experiences of four women with direct experience of the welfare system, highlighting the value of social justice-oriented narratives, as well as shared purpose and social
connection, in relation to their psychological wellbeing. It highlights the significance of the ethos of such settings, with implications for public health policy, voluntary organisations and those resisting neoliberal policies and discourses.


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