A local foodbank has handed out 8,000 meals in just one week after tough economic conditions led to a record-breaking demand in the run-up to Christmas.
Volunteers at the Camborne, Redruth and Pool centre say that many people using the service were families whose children would usually get free school meals during term time. The foodbank are now preparing for a further influx when post-Christmas bills land on doormats this month.
By comparison, over the Christmas period I read a social media post from a parent who wrote how their child had spent more than £100 worth of vouchers in a few hours on add-ons for their Playstation console. It was a stark reminder how the same amount of cash could feed a frugal family for a fortnight.
The diverse fortunes of families in the UK needs tackling and our government only appears to be widening the gap with an increasing number of people now living in poverty – Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s latest poverty report (see below).
A major study by the Social Metrics Commission found that :-
• 12.1% of the UK population, have spent all or most of the last four years in poverty.
• In total, 14.2 million people in the UK were found to be in poverty
• 4.5 million children found to be in poverty under the new measure
• 2.5 million further UK residents are at risk of falling into poverty
According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s latest poverty report, half a million more children are living in poverty in Britain than five years ago.
The ongoing crisis is being made worse for those who need extra care as the Disability Living Allowance is replaced with the new Personal Independence Payment. Several reports claim assessors are working to strict deadlines to reduce the number of claimants.
I have read many harrowing stories of people being stripped of benefits which has had a damaging effect on their quality of life. Some people, unable to cope, chose to end their lives.
The launch of the widely criticised Universal Credit has left families in hardship, with many unable to pay their rent let alone consider essentials such as food and heating.
Although I am extremely fortunate to be able to put food on my own table, I certainly do not take circumstances for granted. I know that, like most, we are only a few missed paydays away from being in a similar situation so often drop items into the foodbank collection points at the local supermarket.
Food banks rely on voluntary donations to continue their vital work throughout the year and a small gesture can make a big difference to local families and individuals in need.