Like so many of you we try and remember to bring items for the foodbank ‘bin’ at St John’s most weeks but to be honest I have fallen out of the habit recently.
Then this week something happened that has made me renew my commitment – and I am asking you to think about doing the same.
As some of you may know I work at a large secondary school only 4 or so miles away. Over half of our children come from disadvantaged backgrounds and for many their home lives and domestic circumstances are already challenging & complex. Like many large urban schools in the last 3 years we have witnessed growing numbers of children coming to school hungry and unable to afford new trousers or replace a ripped blazer (uniform grants are only issued every 2 years).
Over the last 5 days we have had parents arriving school very distressed. One family in particular will have no money for up to 6 weeks. No money to pay their rent or their supermarket shop for a family of 6, let alone for the trousers we asked Mum to buy to replace the jeans her son had been wearing. It transpires that the national move on 7th November to a benefit cap as part of the transition to Universal Credit, has hit our most vulnerable and impoverished families really hard.
The Children’s Society estimates that the benefit cap will impact around 50,000 households, 95% of which are estimated to have children. The fear is that over 200 000 children are at risk of being pushed into ‘severe poverty’. Regardless of our political leanings and our views it cannot be right that children stand to be most affected. We know that foodbanks are one of the most readily available and practical sources of support for families who are literally waiting for money as assessors consider the amount of Universal Credit they are entitled to.
If we all regularly gave even just 1 donation a week, focusing on the items most needed (biscuits, nappies, sugar etc.) we could make a real difference.