RECENTLY I was given stark reminder that over the next year hundreds of thousands of people living in 21st century Britain will be forced to go to a food bank to feed themselves and their families.
I was among a number of MPs who visited a ‘pop-up’ food bank outside the Houses of Parliament that was set up by the Unite union to draw attention to the growing poverty and increasing reliance on hand-out rations in the UK.
Eight years ago less than 3,000 people were relying on food banks, but over the next 12 months the Trussell Trust, which runs Britain’s biggest network of food banks, expects that number rise to more than quarter of a million.
After being briefed about the growth in food banks it came home to me that it is truly appalling that so many people need this kind of support in our country in this day and age.
Sadly we have grown accustomed to seeing food and water being handed out to starving people in Third World countries, but the figures being quoted are a brutal reminder that there are a growing number of people in our own country who are now having to rely on this kind of support to get by.
The work being done by food banks such as the Trussell Trust in giving vital supplies to people both in and out of work, is invaluable.
In my own constituency a Churches in Wansbeck Valley group is currently in the process of trying to set up a network of food banks to help provide emergency supplies to people in genuine need and another is operating in the Bedlington area.
It is heartwarming to know that people from our own communities are committed to helping others in this way, but what is appalling is that this level of support is needed at the same time the government is set to give huge benefits to millionaires from this month when people will also start to feel the effects of the so-called ‘bedroom tax’ eating into what money they have.
Increasing poverty is now a real issue in this country so people need a government that is one their side not a government for the super rich.”