Foodbank fundraiser: a local story of food poverty
Please help support a fundraising effort for my local foodbank in Newcastle.
A knackered looking man with a shopping basket of two meat joints and other groceries is stopped by a security guard as he leaves Sainsbury’s.
It’s Thursday evening around tea time at a busy supermarket on the outskirts of Newcastle.
Parents are rushing in and out of the store picking up groceries on the way home from school or work.
“Sorry mate but I don’t think you’ve paid for those,” said the security guard, gently.
My partner, Sarah, watched the scene play out.
The security guard made light of the situation and the basket was surrendered without further incident.
This is the reality of food poverty in modern Britain.
There shouldn’t be a need for foodbanks in a developed country such as the UK but they’ve become a reality of austerity in the last ten years.
It’s an issue that needs a political answer but the government refuses to acknowledge food poverty let alone measure and track usage. The exception is an MP seeking a local photo opportunity.
The best way to tackle the issue is to support foodbanks in your local community either through donations at your local supermarket, or directly.
The Bay Foodbank in North Shields is three miles from the Sainsbury’s store. There’s a collection bin for food donations in the store.
We’ve raised cash for the Bay Foodbank each Christmas for the past three years since the release of I, Daniel Blake.
The film, directed by Ken Loach and set in Newcastle, told the story of foodbanks as a result of the changes to the benefit system.
It tells the story of a 59 year old joiner who is forced to go back to work after a heart attack, and a single mother of two children.
The unlikely pairing fall between the cracks of the welfare state and become reliant on food banks for basic groceries.
I challenge you to watch the film and not be moved to action. It’s a narrative that continues to play out as a result of delays to Universal Credit payments.
But that’s only part of the story. Around a third of the people who use the Bay Foodbank, like other foodbanks in the UK, are in work but are reliant on it to make ends meet.
Foodbank usage is up four fold since 2012 according to a recent United Nation report on poverty in the UK.
“We thought 2016 was our peak year, but demand increased in 2017, and has again this year,” said the Bay Foodbank manager Jackie Dickinson.
Thanks to charitable donations, the foodbank has hired an additional van this Christmas to help cope with demand.
Sarah and I are raising money again this Christmas. We’ve hit £500 but would like to raise more.