It’s time we began to appreciate food-banks in the UK

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It’s convenient for us to condemn the impoverished in this country (the UK) to the role of ‘the lazy underclass’ but I don’t see how anyone of sound mind can listen to this phonecall and fail to appreciate the fact that there are people out there in desperate situations; people who plausibly, through no fault of their own, have been dealt a bad hand in life and have to struggle through joblessness for extended periods as the rest of their lives begin to slowly crumble. I don’t know the solution, whether me writing this blog or lending my time to a food-bank will suffice, but simply doing nothing is not an option. [pullquote]Even slacktivism trumps ignorance to injustice[/pullquote]

Ignorance well and truly is bliss. I feel that if and when we are made aware of an injustice of any sort it becomes a burden on us to act. It’s our duty as moral people to do something. Anything. Even slacktivism trumps ignorance to injustice. As little as sending a tweet or retweeting something that highlights and helps to escalate an issue is a worthwhile action in my opinion.

Slacktivism – actions performed via the Internet in support of a political or social cause but regarded as requiring little time or involvement, e.g. signing an online petition or joining a campaign group on a social media website.

I’m always reminded at time like this of the ant (or whatever animal it was) that went to spit mouthfuls of water at the enormous fire that the people had created to throw Prophet Ibrahim into. You may feel or even know for a fact that your actions won’t have any wider implications but at least you can tell your Lord that you did what you could and that you tried.

Credit where credit is due, there are organisations out there that have been running for a while now that are tackling the needs of those who can’t afford food on a regular basis. A family member of mine helps out with one such food-bank and the stories I’ve heard from him are incredible. He once told me of a 45 year old man that came to the food-bank. He was a homeowner who was married with two kids. The man had been referred to the food-bank by the probation services and as he got talking to my relative, he explained his story:

He was in full-time employment when he bought his house and life was good. Shortly after, his wife got cancer and was forced to leave her job. As her condition worsened he had to leave his job to become a full-time carer for his wife. The money he was getting for caring for his wife on a full-time basis was not enough to sustain his family and as he was a homeowner, the state deemed that he was not eligible to receive any further financial assistance. As making ends meet became more and more difficult, they eventually decided to sell their house. Selling a house can take months and one day, before the sale of his house, his kids were hungry. There was no money for food and he was forced to steal from a local supermarket to feed his hungry children. He was caught in the act and placed on probation. Whilst on probation he was no longer entitled to his carers income, nor benefits of any type. He therefore ended up at the food-bank.

It genuinely breaks my heart hearing of the struggle people endure in this supposed First World country. I appreciate that it’s not a problem that is straightforward to solve, but I think it’s fair to say that in our welfare state, the system is flawed. I’m sorry I can’t end this on a positive note, I’m not even used to writing so seriously, but I implore everyone to do their bit. Whatever you think you can do. Go out and do it. Make a difference.

The food-bank my relative volunteers at, that does a fantastic job in my local area (North-West London) is called Sufra – Food Bank and Kitchen. If anyone in the local area and would like to get involved, I know they are always looking for more volunteers and people to get more involved with the great work they do. You can contact them on admin@sufra-nwlondon.org.uk 

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