This week a Foodbank opened in my town – this is a bit of a shock! The town is supposedly in a particularly affluent South East area, with many people commuting into London’s financial markets and numerous others employed in the tourist and other service sectors. In recent years it has been a growth area with an influx of new businesses, supported by extremely good transport links.
How the heck has the Country reached the stage where so many towns need a Foodbank? Well over 13 million people now live below the poverty line in the UK. Every day people in the UK go hungry for diverse issues and reasons ranging from serious illness, or redundancy to receiving an unexpected bill on a low income. In the UK there have been the recessions, the economic downturns and a steady reduction in welfare provision, which has created a country with struggling families who cannot afford food.
The unpalatable truth is that it seems there is now a need for Foodbanks in all our communities : the growth of the network has been extraordinary since the start of the century and in recent years it has been exponential – the number doubled last year, and there are now 3000!
Foodbanks are run by motivated groups and are Church led initiatives They are community-based projects, where food is donated by local people, stored locally and distributed to local people in need – such people in crisis get emergency food for 3 days, using vouchers issued on referral from various Professionals such as Health Visitors, and others working in the front line of poverty.
However, Downing Street insist that the poor don’t need foodbanks to help them eat and the Prime Minister’s view is that it shouldn’t be needed and that benefits are sufficient to pay for all expenses! David Cameron is criticised as being ill advised and just not rooted in reality.
The facts are that UK Foodbanks fed one hundred and thirty thousand people a year ago, and are feeding a quarter of a million now The rising costs of food and fuel combined with static income, high unemployment and changes to benefits are causing more and more people to go to Foodbanks for help.
Why do people need emergency food? Today people across the UK will struggle to feed themselves and their families. Redundancy, illness, benefit delay, domestic violence, debt, family breakdown and paying for the additional costs of heating during winter are just some of the reasons why people go hungry
It is said that Foodbanks help prevent crime, housing loss, family breakdown and mental health problems. A simple box of food makes a big difference.
Well, I shopped and delivered a few bags of food to my town’s Foodbank at its opening yesterday morning – perhaps you can do the same in your town?