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I knit, I sew, I run, I look after children and hamsters, I take truly terrible pictures, I cook, I complain.  Sometimes all at the same time.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Food bank

I went to Tesco today.  Shocking in itself, I know.  It's Hattie's birthday party tomorrow, and having promised a Gruffalo cake, I need to deliver, so masses of cake decorating stuff was needed.  Even after the great cupboard sort of last week, I'm never quite sure what I've got, and I don't mind doubling up occasionally.  After all, none of it goes off and I will use it.

As I went in, two women representing the Trussell Trust approached me to ask if I would be happy to buy something for the food bank, and put it on the table at the front.  The table was not very full, which was quite upsetting, even given how early it was, and as I left, I heard someone being rude to the women, which isn't very nice either.  

I don't know how I feel about food banks.  On the one hand, people need helping, and giving them food when they can't afford to buy it is a very good way to help.  But it is like putting a sticking plaster on a broken leg - it makes you feel like you are doing something, but does it really help in the long term?  Surely we should go upstream, as Desmond Tutu said, and find out why people are falling into the river. Of course we need to pull them out as well, but why have they fallen in?  Is it this ghastly bedroom tax, which seems to be totally unfair, or is it the benefits cap, which is also unfair - of course you should be given less money on benefits than you can earn working, but raise wages to a living wage, don't pull the rug away from under the most vulnerable in society's feet.  

I am very privileged.  I am middle class, well educated, intelligent, relatively wealthy, married to a wonderful man who shares responsibilities with me and I'm white, which makes a difference, much as I hate to think or say it.  I have two perfect children who don't have learning difficulties or special needs - Lucy is a bit deaf, but we think it's a temporary thing, and both of us have the education, the will and the power to make sure she sees the people who she needs to see in order to help her.  As part of my commitment to actually living my faith, I am trying very hard to look at the world through other people's eyes, particularly at school.  I must try to remember that the parents of my children do not have my privileges, and when they wind me up, I must bear this in mind.  I must, to use that terrible phrase, check my privilege.  

If you are interested in food banks or the Trussell Trust, look here.  Jack Monroe writes very movingly about food poverty; you can find her blog here.  You can check your own privilege by looking in a mirror.

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