Friday, 18 October 2013

My Beef With Food Banks (like what I did there?!)

The level of poverty in our country is getting higher and higher by the day. More than 1 in 4 (or 27%) of children in the UK are living in poverty. 1 in 4!!!!! People are unable to get jobs, benefits are being cut so that they no longer cover the cost of living, and everyone is suffering.

I recently came across this blog post A Girl Called Jack which I beg you all to read. This is a true account of poverty, how it can affect anyone, and how it can impact on a family.

What does this have to do with Food Banks I hear you cry? Surely they do a fantastic service and provide food to people who can't afford it and would otherwise starve? Well actually............... In order to obtain any food from a Food Bank, you first have to be in receipt of a voucher. These vouchers are given out by healthcare professionals, police etc. You have to first find one of these professionals (my GP can never find his prescription pad so I doubt very highly that he would ever be able to find his wad of vouchers), throw any dignity you have to one side, admit you are down to your last box of cereal, and then hope that you are a willing case. Then, if you have the money to get a bus (or the energy to walk if you have eaten that day) you need to get yourself to the Food Bank. Our city Food Bank is on the high street, and only opens on a Monday. On the front door it states that it will open "unspecifically throughout the week". So if you only have one lot of bus fare in your purse, let's hope that it is "unspecifically" today.

Now before I go on, I just want to say that anything from Food Banks has been kindly donated by the good people around that area out of sheer generosity, I am NOT putting down anyone that donates to Food Banks, you are doing a fantastic thing and children will sleep with full tummies thanks to you. I also want to point out that there have been times in the past where we have been skint. The kind of "paid the bills but need to borrow £10 for formula because we don't qualify for milk tokens" kind of skint. And if we were to become skint again *holds breath and feels sick at the thought of going back to those days* any standards, principles or beliefs I have will go out of the window so that my kiddies can be fed. Just sayin. 

What I am getting at, is that the Food Bank system itself doesn't work to help cater for all who desperately need food. So many families, children, homeless, and vulnerable adults fall through the net because they don't know where to find the help or how the system works. I understand that it is a charity based operation that is trying it's best, but shouldn't a proper system be put in place and supported by the Goverment? Who, by the way, has got people into this situation in the first place?! It would seem that they are simply ignoring the fact that poverty is such an epidemic in this country at all. After all, if you close your eyes and cover your ears, it's not really happening right?

Thankfully The Birtish Red Cross are trying to tackle hunger and poverty by teaming up with FareShare to help provide meals to those who are in genuine need. Please please please consider dropping off some food at one of their collection areas at Tesco stores on the 29th November, 30th November and the 1st December so that people who cannot access Food Banks will also be fed and we can all try to help make these cold winter months a bit more bearable.

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