I have problems with almost everything to do with foodbanks. I dislike the fact that the Trussell Trust describe their model as “scaleable” and use words like “franchise”. This is the language of business, this is the language of permanence.
Do not get me wrong, I know how important foodbanks are. I filled up with equal parts rage against the system and compassion for the victims of that system when I watched this video from Maryhill Foodbank. I also fully respect the efforts of the army of volunteers who run these foodbanks.
Who decides who gets Help?
“Care professionals such as doctors, health visitors, social workers, CAB and police identify people in crisis and issue them with a foodbank voucher.” – Trussell Trust website
For the most part, these are government agencies, so, in my eyes, the government is perfectly willing to identify people in need, but rather than do anything about it, like perhaps improving the benefit system, it drives vulnerable people towards charity.
Do not believe the “lies of austerity”. We live in an affluent country, we can find money for state weddings and funerals and games (both Commonwealth and Olympic.) It is a matter of priorities. Our country is not poor, it is making an ideological choice to discard the people who need help the most and throw them upon the mercy of others.
Donating to a foodbank should not be like buying a poppy or a yellow daffodil or a Lifeboat sticker. It should never be considered normal. It should fill us with pain and shame every time we do it. Pain because we live in a country that has abandoned any sense of social security, shame because we have allowed it to happen.
During the Scottish referendum campaign, I saw “Better Together” minded people, sharing information that claimed that Foodbanks are all over Europe and that it’s all part of being a perfectly normal 21st Century state. I cry Poppycock and if that is normal I want to live in a country that is exceptional.
I would also put an end to collections in schools, unless it is made clear to the children that the reason for them is that “the Government is failing the people”. Collections in schools illustrate the point that: What we as a generation tolerate, the next generation will think as normal.
So every time we donate, which we should, we should realise that foodbanks are an abomination and we should be fighting against the need for them at every opportunity and not cementing and glorifying their place in our communities.
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