In the news today the Daily Mail state that one of their reporters, Ross Slater attended Nottingham’s Citizens Advice Bureau and told them he needed help in order to feed his two Children and Wife. The story focuses on the fact that he wasn’t asked for identification or proof of income before being handed a voucher for a food bank parcel, which would last his Family three days. Apparently, being a ‘generous’ three days worth of shopping.
I am writing about this issue, because it is close to my heart, and I am utterly disgusted in the article. As you can see, the parcel from the food bank is not ‘generous’ for a Family of four, it is a parcel of food, which would feed people in need of food, for energy and to protect and promote their health.
What disgusts me about this article is that The Daily Mail are, as usual missing the point. Yes this man was given a food parcel, and yes it was given without checking his identity or income.
But does it really matter?
Surely that is the point of food banks. To help those in need of food. This man lied to several people in order to gain this food for his article. He asked for help, and he got it. Surely that is a good thing? Does it matter if he is on benefits or whether he is earning 50K, the point is that he said he could not feed his Children and Wife, and they needed help.
We have an amazing Welfare State in this Country. We help everyone, no discrimination, this we should be proud of, not focusing on trying to ‘police’ hand outs and assistance.
The Citizens Advice bureau assessed this reporter and listened to him. They acted quickly and gave him a voucher so he could receive a food parcel. They deserve a pat on the back, not criticism.
Food banks often hand out food past its sell by date, some items are donated by businesses, but in fact approximately 90% of the food given out has been donated by members of the public. What does this tell us? That Communities are helping each other. Surely this is something worth celebrating?
I do not live in an ivory tower. No, I’ve never used a food bank, but I am involved in one at work. As a team we stock a food bank and hand out the food to those who need it on a regular basis. It makes me so sad that we have to do this, but if it stops a person turning to crime in order to buy food for their Children, surely this is a good thing? Hearing that someone has not eaten for four days and seeing them go dizzy in front of you is extremely difficult to deal with, and so I cannot even begin to imagine what it is like for them. Therefore I do what I can as any decent person should, and I help them by passing on the donated food items.
In my experience, people do not ask for a food parcel, they ask for help. They are often embarrassed, ashamed and uncomfortable. Why make these feeling so much worse by asking too many questions? Why not allow them to keep their dignity and give them the help they need, no questions asked. In checking proof of income, identification or other assessments, what is that going to achieve? What is going to be done with this information?! It doesn’t alter the fact that they may have children at home that are hungry.
The question should be why do food banks exist? And why are they needed? It is because people do not have enough money to feed their Families, and this is really really sad. Who are we to judge why this person does not have any money or any food? Who are we to make assessments of their income and demand proof of their bank account balance?
What is even sadder is that due to this reporters lies, it may have just stopped someone else, who was really in need of that food parcel receiving it and I think that is utterly shameful. People can lose everything, and quickly. I have witnessed it.
Daily Mail, do not judge others, but your own paper.