Kay’s Blog: Sleeping on the street is not a lifestyle choice. Neither is poverty.

General / Thu 18th Jan 2024 at 09:51am

FOODBANKS are still with us; people still need that help. Indeed, the need has increased of recent months. Foodbanks aren’t about to disappear any time soon.

Most foodbanks provide more than food: they stock toiletries, cleaning products, clothes and just about every basic human requirement. Advice and encouragement can be found there, giving the visitor a much-needed boost.

Even though need has increased, the Trussell Trust asks us to plan for a time when foodbanks cease to exist in their present form. That would be wonderful. The Trussell Trust is an umbrella organisation which, amongst other things, collects statistics on use and causes (low pay, family breakdown, cost-of-living pressure, crisis, insufficient benefit) and campaigns tirelessly to combat poverty.

Projects initiated by Trussell Trust build on the community hub model, enabling better links with grassroots organisations and frontline professionals. In Manchester, an ‘Anti-Poverty Community Manifesto’ is being created. The team at Lisburn Foodbank helps the whole person, the whole family, ‘taking the burden off’ until the family finds its feet. Plenty of informed, sensitive help is provided, as in Harlow where the foodbank tackles similar challenges creatively week after week.

In UK cities, billboards have appeared: they shout ‘Thousands are going without. Universal Credit is falling short. … Will you help?’

Sleeping on the street is not a lifestyle choice. Neither is poverty. More than 100 organisations have signed Trussell Trust’s letter to UK political leaders, asking how they’ll help the millions of households going without essentials. Age UK, Christians against Poverty, Mencap, Mind, Oxfam, Save the Children, The Big Issue and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation are on board. The basic rate of universal credit for a single person is £85 per week, unlikely to cover food, household bills, travel, personal hygiene costs. 

Trussell Trust argues that an Essentials Guarantee would ensure everyone has a minimum of support. If you’d like to participate, please sign the petition at trusselltrust.org/essentials.

Change is necessary …. but it won’t happen overnight. In the meantime, we can still lend a helping hand. Every donation, every volunteer, every Facebook share can make a difference to someone’s life. Every little really does help.

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6 Comments for Kay’s Blog: Sleeping on the street is not a lifestyle choice. Neither is poverty.:

2024-01-18 10:07:14

Agree but for some people doing nothing and poncing is a lifestyle choice.

Andy Thornton
2024-01-18 13:51:25

Thanks so much for this support Kay - these statistics are entirely relevant to Harlow where we have given food parcels to support over 4,000 people this past year. We make sure people don't go hungry, but readers may be interested to know that on average households we support receive 2.4 parcels over a year. That means that the most common number of times people come to us is once, getting themselves out of an unexpected tight corner. But the evidence we have shows that more people are reaching a crisis point, and those who return three times or more come because they have been longer-term on benefits which no longer stretch anything like as far now that rents, costs of fuel, cost of food and clothes have gone up disproprtionally compared to benefits. Then it only takes a little thing to go wrong (like your washing machine breaks or your ageing parents need your help) and there's no money for food at all. The Essentials Guarantee campaign is trying to even out that disparity between how much things actually cost versus the level that Universal Credit has now dropped to. It would make a difference to hundreds of thousands of households, and in particular to children, who only get one start in life, and if that is marred by poverty, then the rest of their lives is significantly compromised - all studies show. If there is anyone reading this who is constantly struggling in this way, do come along to the Bounty Club, our new low-cost social supermarket which is designed to help people make ends meet without needing the Foodbank. This is now open in the former BHS building via the back door outside the Harvey Centre. We are doing what we can to help people stay afloat but the best long term answer is to make up the difference between the real cost of living and the low level of benefits. Meanwhile - thanks so very much to Harlow neighbours who keep giving food to us for the Foodbank (which doesn't go to the Bounty Club) through the supermarkets and other collection points - you are a Godsend to those in despair.

2024-01-18 16:26:18

Ray: For some, judging groups of people, based only on the fact they’re claiming a benefit of some sort, that, ‘doing nothing and poncing is a lifestyle choice’, is a very lazy way of forming an opinion, ironically! To bring that up says a lot more about you than it does the thousands of people struggling due to circumstances beyond their control! I bet you didn’t even read the article!

2024-01-18 17:20:22

Try again Ellen, I said 'some people' , anyway, nice baiting.

James Gamble
2024-01-19 10:39:30

House owners with more than one property should be made to house the homeless if their property is not occupied.

2024-01-21 10:12:15

Somehow we can find over £3 billion to house,feed and provide healthcare to people who cross the channel illegally!

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