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Thursday, 30 May 2013

More than 500,000 people forced to use food banks


More than half a million Britons are using food banks to stave off hunger and destitution

A volunteer at a Trussell Trust food bank sorts donations to the charity

Since the early part of 2012, I have been posting the occasional comment, in this and other media, on the subject of Foodbanks and the way in which they have become a growing feature of British society.
Today, I return to that subject in the wake of new evidence which indicates that this scandalous phenomena continues to grow and is accelerating at at alarming rate.
In December of 2012, it was predicted that this year, 2013, foodbanks would be feeding some 200,000 people, double the number of 2012. It is now May, less than six months into 2013, and the figure is more than 500,000, more than half a million people who are today reliant to some extent or other on the provision of charity food distributed though Foodbanks around the country.
Reading through the comments sections of many national papers and those newspapers appearing only on line, it is sad and often quite nauseating to read a few, though fortunately not the majority, of contributions which can only be described as malicious in content or tone and mischievous in intent. Constant references to living on benefits, 57inch plasma televisions, scroungers buying booze and cigarettes before food, and other even more odious references litter the contributions. These nasty postings are aimed directly at those people, the majority of whom through no fault of their own, find themselves in the position of having to rely on the charities in order to feed themselves and their families, and who initially have to endure means tested assessments in order to obtain a referral letter from one or other of the appropriate bodies.
There are many Foodbank users in this country. Today there are more than 500,000 people visiting Foodbanks regularly. Admittedly there are some, a small minority, who abuse the system by convincing a referrer that they are in need, and thus manage to obtain an appropriate authorisation. However, the vast majority of users are ordinary people many of whom are actually in paid employment, but who's level of additional benefit is insufficient to meet the ever increasing day to day living costs.
There are those who may have recently been made redundant and now find the significant reduction of their income a considerable problem. Then there are those, such as the disabled, who find that their benefits are either reduced, or frozen, leading to financial hardship. There are many groups of people who for one reason or another find that the costs of everyday living are such that there is never enough disposable income to meet all needs and consequently, having paid the absolutely essential household bills, find that some assistance with food is welcome. The pedlars of bile, spite and prejudice, who's letters fill the comments sections, may consider themselves fortunate that they are not in the position of others and may perhaps pray that their circumstances do not change for the worse at some point in the future.
Not only is the increasing reliance on Foodbanks a phenomenon about which we should all feel shame, but the comments by politicians from the ConDem coalition exacerbate a problems which has been gaining momentum for decades. Chris Steward, York Tory councillor claimed in January this year that, Foodbanks are for people who can't budget and today, Ed Davey denies any connection between the rise in Foodbank user numbers and government policy. These comments, and remarks by others, are by accident or design, creating divisions in society and aggravating other splits which are already there.
Foodbanks and the usage of them is growing at an alarming rate. In Great Britain, in the first part of the 21st Century, it is to our shame that we have collectively allowed such a situation to come about. Unless we act soon to reverse the current trend the number of people reliant on the Foodbank charities may well be in excess of one million by the end of this year, less than 6 months from now. History will be a stern judge if we allow such a situation to come about.