Sunday, 20 July 2014

The sad necessity of Barrow Food Bank

I  was privileged to be able to join in with a wonderful group of workers who run Barrow Food Bank, ably  led by  an incredibly hard working Ann Mills. They had gathered together in the the Abbey road Baptist Church  to celebrate their hard work, again organised by Ann.

People who read this Blog will remember that I discovered the existence of the Barrow Food  Bank, through my neighbour Gordon  Jones who works with young people in the Barrow as far back as February this year. Since then we have been collecting all the surplus unsold bread  from the French Bread stall on Ulverston Market every Saturday and taking it to Barrow Food Bank to be frozen, ready for redistribution to outlying Food Banks throughout the area(one of them being here in Ulverston at Bethany Hall). This bread would otherwise be thrown away and I can't stand the thought of this kind of waste at a time when so many families are desparate for food.

Ann Mills, project manager of Barrow foodbank, delivered a talk to the Millom volunteers back in January 2013 when she said:

 “People have a perception that the people using foodbank services are the dregs of society.

“But once the centre is set up in Millom you’ll see the sort of people whose benefits have been delayed, meaning they have no money for weeks. Or the biggest thing is people on low incomes.
“We have all kinds of people coming in for all kinds of reasons. Our main purpose is to restore hope and dignity to people.”

This is still very true of what is happening now , unknown to most of us , particularly in Barrow at the present time.

Today I heard reports of families living in incredible poverty in Barrow at this very moment.What is alarming is they the problem  is now spreading to families who are in work but only earning the minimum wage.

I talked to Sue who keeps track of all those that use the service. She was able to reassure me that there was very little abuse of the system with her monitoring she would be able to spot people who were abusing the free food.In fact she reported that school teachers who are working closely with Ann Mills,were becoming aware that some children were surviving on only one meal a day and this was the one they got at school. One boy had only had one pair of shoes in the past three years.

Yes , for whatever reason, real poverty does exist in the area

What is disturbing is that Cameron is completely out of touch with what is happening at this level in our society:

"Labour chief Ed Miliband paid tribute to volunteers working to feed the poor, vulnerable and homeless last Christmas."
And Mr Miliband demanded: “Is the Prime Minister as concerned as I am that there has been a six-fold increase in the last three years in the number of people relying on food banks?”
The Trussell Trust, which organises food handouts across the country, estimates it will feed 230,000 people this year, up from 26,000 in 2009-10.
There was uproar when Mr Cameron tried to make a virtue of the desperate situation.
The PM said: “First of all let me echo what he said about volunteers and people who work hard in communities, part of what I call the ‘Big Society’, to help those in need.”
To jeers from Labour, he blundered on: “It is a good time of year to thank out volunteers for what they do.
“But I do share his concern about people who are struggling to pay the bills, who are struggling to deal with their budgets.”

The Labour leader raised shocking research that shows teachers are being forced to feed starving pupils out of their own pocket.
“Why does he think it is happening and why does it appear to be getting worse on his watch?” he demanded.
Mr Miliband added that the PM’s answers “seem very out of touch with families up and down the country”.

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