The Reality Of Food Banks – Who Are They Really Supporting?

The shocking levels of food poverty in the region has prompted the Lancashire Telegraph to launch a campaign calling on readers to back local foodbanks.

Pony up some groceries for the poor folks, shoppers!

They fall into three categories, apparently. And since the Left adore anecdote, while sneering at its use by anyone else, we can’t just be told what those categories are, can we?

Here are some stories of people in those predicaments.

*gets popcorn*

According to the foodbanks the first category of people being helped are in ‘short-term crisis’.
This group may have been financially solvent enough to support themselves in the past but due to an unexpected redundancy, illness or divorce, they suddenly face brief financial hardship, perhaps for the first time.

Ah. The sort of people who you would naturally expect – absent any friends or relatives – to be reliant on foodbanks. And probably the sort that people fondly imagine they are helping when they buy a few extra cans of tomato soup and slip them into the foodbank collection tray.

And why not? Isn’t that ‘charity’ in the purest sense of the word?

One resident from Bacup, who received a food package from the Raft Foundation in Rossendale, said: “We were fine until I lost my job at the council.

“Technically, I was made ‘redundant’ but there was no redundancy pay.

“My husband is disabled and so all of a sudden, the two of us were on benefits. We managed to scrape by at first but then we were hit with two unexpected bills. Something had to give and we ended up needing the food package to avoid missing bill payments.”

Hmmm, how can you be ‘technically redundant’ but not get redundancy pay? Are councils playing fast and loose with employment law?

But I digress. Who are in the other categories?

Ros Duerden, project manager, at Blackurn Foodbank said the organisation often provided short-term help for people with drug and alcohol problem. These clients are usually referred to the foodbank by the police or community drugs team.

They are often people who are trying to get their lives back on track and Mrs Duerden said that a referral could help with that and provide a real boost to people at a crucial time.

She said: “The community drugs team comments that the act of referring clients to the Foodbank often presents the opportunity to sit down together and talk about things like budgeting, diet and lifestyle choices, so it strengthens the relationship between them.

“People with addiction problems often live very chaotic lifestyles and so their circumstances change with alarming regularity.

“Usually, they are referred because there has been a change in their lifestyle which has forced them to reapply for benefits, which can then be delayed.

“We are here only as a safety net and can’t provide long term support for anyone who uses the centre.”

So, some of your charity is going towards people who ‘live chaotic lifestyles’. Hmm. I really want to believe that this is just a stopgap until they turn their life around, but…

OK, last group?

The third group fall into the ‘secondary pressures’ category.

This group refers to people who are earning a low wage or are reliant on benefits but have secondary pressures that mean their financial balance can be hard to maintain.

Their finances may be disrupted frequently by irresponsible partners, irregular work patterns and difficult family circumstances.

In short, the people who our prospective charitable shoppers would most feel aren’t deserving of their extra can of pilchards or packet of teabags.

Do we have a sad story for this category? Reader, we do:

One user of the Blackburn Foodbank who lives in Infirmary Road said: “Me and my ex had a really bad relationship.

“Now we’ve split, we share custody of my little boy but because his official address is at his dad’s I can’t claim any benefits as a parent.

“I also work for a charity but because it is only voluntary I don’t get paid.

“When I told the job centre about my new circumstances they stopped my benefits for four weeks while they processed it “ I don’t understand how they can do this to me. My little boy still lives with me three or four days a week, so it’s not like I don’t have to feed or support him and I have no one else to turn to. My mum died when I was 15.”

So you had a child with a man that you had ‘a bad relationship’ with, you don’t (surprise!) have custody despite having the thing family courts prefer above all, and yet you think the State ought to run some sort of complicated split of child support between you and your ex-boyfriend so you can shove some fish fingers down his throat when he visits?

This calls for a concerto…


4 comments for “The Reality Of Food Banks – Who Are They Really Supporting?

  1. ivan
    July 22, 2013 at 11:09 am

    Julia, I think you need to find a much smaller violin than that.

  2. July 22, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    Hmmm, how can you be ‘technically redundant’ but not get redundancy pay? Are councils playing fast and loose with employment law?

    But I digress.

    No, I think you’ve very much hit the key issue.

  3. Woman on a Raft
    July 22, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    who received a food package from the Raft Foundation

    I’d like to make it clear this is nothing to do with me.

    What I noticed last month was that my local supermarket were doing very nicely out of this by promising to match by 1/3 (or some uncheckable figure) the donations made by people buying food and putting it in a collection box.

    I think that if they were really bothered, they could either give the food away or sell it for much less money, so I can only assume this is really a scam for shopkeepers.

  4. July 22, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    Several times in the past month, radio programmes have featured a spokesman from a food bank organisation effectively stating that the number of people using newly set-up food banks clearly demonstrates the extent of the need for them.

    While there are always going to be some isolated people who slip through the gaps in the welfare service and are in genuine need, I find it hard to believe that, as the spokesmen claim, social stigma would prevent anyone else exploiting the system.

    It’s the same ideological viewpoint that, when the benefits system state was created, assumed it would only ever be used as a temporary last resort, and see how well that one worked!

    Whenever one of these spokesmen turns up insisting that no one would ever think of abusing the generosity of donors and volunteers, I find myself thinking of that line from the Kevin Costner film: ‘Build it and they will come’.

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