I must confess, I’m writing this on the last day of
#fdbloggersBTL and I’m pretty flipping excited about the return to our normal
eating habits tomorrow. My husband and I have been talking about what we’re
going to eat over the weekend, and I think fairly near the top of our list is a
big roast dinner with all the trimmings – yum. Of course, I know that this
(being able to look forward to delicious food when it’s over) is what makes
this challenge so much easier than the real thing – for more of my thoughts on
that, check out yesterday’s diary post.
Today, I want to talk about something you might not have
given much thought to. We’re all familiar with poverty levels in the third
world, and most of us will have donated at some point to help those in need.
Obviously, there’s a huge amount more to be done, and I’m not here to say that’s
not incredibly important. However, I want to talk for a minute about some of
poverty’s other disguises, and how it can turn up in the most unexpected places
here in the UK. This morning, I read this article from the Huffington Post
about who actually uses foodbanks in Britain, and to use a classic clickbait
phrase, it’s not who you might think.
Benefit delays are the biggest reason foodbank users
cite, and the second biggest group of users are those on a low income – so it’s
not about supporting those who are too lazy or incompetent to get a job. PLEASE
let’s kill off this awful, poisonous stereotype now. Low-income foodbank-users
are not sitting around waiting for handouts – they’re working just as hard as
everyone else, but for less money. And those receiving benefits are receiving
them because they need them. Sure, there’s a percentage of fraud – that’s
always going to be the case, it’s human nature. But the vast majority need
support because they cannot work, or they can’t work enough. Forget
generalisations and stereotypes, and for a moment imagine someone close to you,
someone real, who works long hours at a soul-destroying job and still doesn’t
get paid enough to put food on the table, or someone who is in too much pain to
get out of the house, or is suffering through the very visceral, close and
personal terror of mental illness.
Many of us are inclined to feel like our lives are pretty
stable, but the truth is that your world can turn upside down in a moment.
Illness, whether mental or physical, can strike anyone. It’s all too possible
these days for jobs to disappear overnight. A small piece of bad luck can
snowball until it’s unstoppable, destroying everything in its way. So it’s very
important that we all stop thinking of those living in poverty as Them, over
There – a separate group that has nothing to do with Us. The truth is that the
poverty line is a very fine one, and it doesn’t take much to cross it.
Want to support us?
Instead of asking you to donate money, we’re asking that you make a small
change to your habits that can make a huge difference, and start donating
regularly to your local food bank to help those in desperate need. It couldn’t
possibly be easier, because most big supermarkets (including Tesco, Sainsbury's & Waitrose) now have a collection point,
so all you have to do is put something extra into your trolley when you do your
big shop. Keep an eye out next time you go, and do something small that has a