Tired old prejudices on foodbank service
Sir – As the manager of the region’s main foodbank, I think I should respond to the letter which appeared in last week’s Galloway News.
Was I profoundly depressed by the letter? Of course I was. Was I surprised by its sentiments? Not remotely. In the years following the financial crash, many people have found themselves lacking the means to feed themselves.
Thanks to foodbanks to the best of my knowledge not one of these millions of people has died of starvation. Normally we worry when people are going hungry and there is nobody on hand to provide emergency food.
How extraordinary your correspondent should be so troubled by the problem of too many people doing their best to help out. For hundreds of years, there have been many who have shared your correspondent’s desire to create systems to separate the “deserving poor” and the “undeserving poor”.
Endless stories of scroungers and shirkers living high on the hog care of their state benefits continue to be a tabloid favourite. Your letter writer clearly shares many of these tired old prejudices. Apparently, many of our clients squander their money on booze and fags. Oh dear. Same old, same old. Instead of being given a simple bag of food, poor people should be required to attend public kitchens to be taught to cook and be expected to “clean up after the meal”.
I think Oliver Twist might find much in this idea rather familiar. I wonder if he might be allowed more in this proposed 21st century version of alms for the poor.
Today people from Langholm to Castle Douglas will collect our food parcels from 23 collection points across the region. Does your correspondent seriously expect us to open 23 training kitchens where the hapless hungry can be taught to cook and clean up in exchange for a filled belly?
Letters like the one which appeared on Thursday are in fact very damaging. Finding yourself in a position where you are relying on a foodbank to feed yourself is utterly soul destroying and these kinds of letters hardly help.
Over the last 14 years, First Base has issued more than 40,000 emergency food parcels. We have managed to do this thanks entirely to the generosity of our local community who donate £45,000 worth of food a year to us.
Will Thursday’s letter make your readers more likely or less likely to donate a tin of beans to us? I think we all know the answer. No wonder so many families are terrified to come to First Base for help. They are worried they might be seen and gossiped about. This kind of stigma really is truly toxic.