Foodbanks Are Essential

As Christmas looms, we need to spare a thought for those who won’t have such a great time.

I’m about to launch my reverse Advent Calendar where I ask those, who can, to join me and donate something daily in the run up to Christmas.

I spent part of Saturday with Labour Party volunteers collecting for a local foodbank.

A foodbank can be described as a not-for-profit organisation that distributes food to those who can’t afford enough. The first one is thought to have been established in the USA in 1967 but they weren’t considered part of British life until 2000 when Paddy Henderson opened one in his garden shed in Salisbury.

The Trussell Trust, which Paddy and his wife Carol established, now supports more than 2000 foodbanks across the country.

We’re even hearing stories of them being set up in hospitals, not for patients, but nurses and other hospital staff who are struggling. It’s estimated that around 20% of people using foodbanks are in work.

Over 2 million people have had to use a foodbank in the past 12 months, two thirds have a significant health condition, and a large number are people with a serious disability.

Women with children and women fleeing domestic abuse also figure high in the numbers.

Tory politicians sometimes have an uneasy relationship with food banks.

Theresa May, as Prime Minister, looked stumped when asked about them during the 2017 election and Jacob Rees Mogg caused uproar by implying they were evidence of Christian largesse rather than a response to poverty.

My own view is that they’ve sadly become all too common in our society, but we need them.

I want to say a special thank you to all those volunteers who helped me on Saturday, those at Spearhead Trust, Bells Farm who run a great service and my wonderful constituents in Sunderton Rd, Elford Close and all the roads off who gave so generously.

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