Tired old prej­u­dices on food­bank ser­vice

The Galloway News - - NEWS -

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.

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