Let’s face it – we are lucky enough to each be able to afford to feed ourselves and our families. Whether that’s clothing ourselves in designer garb and shopping in Waitrose, or being more budgeted we can at the very least afford the basics to get us through our lives.
I think sometimes throughout the year we fail to recognise how lucky we are that we go home to heated houses, that we can be frivolous with our spending; eating out, buying new clothes, going on days out and the like, and then the festive season comes round.
Yet some cannot do those things, repeatedly going home to cold houses, unable to afford the heating costs or simply unable to have a hot meal. Furthermore, many of these people may feel embarrassed to ask for help until they cannot see another way out.
It would be easy to say that the frivolity and consumerism of the festive season irks me, that we should give back and leave it at that, but that’s not quite the case.
Last year, I spoke out about food poverty and homelessness in Kent that was very close to my heart. I was aware of a family member who had visited foodbanks in their time of need, and the help that they received was phenomenal – no judgement, just honest help. This year, that family member passed away, so it’s even closer to my heart.
Am I being selfish to use a work drive to benefit a cause I feel so strongly about?
Some may argue yes; however, I think that it’s a good opportunity to raise awareness for those around us to take care of those within the community. The reality is though that there has been a 13% increase over the past 6 months of people using foodbanks, which was itself a 30% increase over the same period from 2016.
The reason behind crisis situations are vast, and no one situation is the same. What you may be able to cope with financially, the person sitting next to you may not be. Sometimes it is NOT that persons’ fault that they are suffering a time of hardship.
Figures from the trust for 2017/18 showed that:
- Low income was the highest primary reason for referral causes of poverty and hardship (28.49%)
- Sickness and ill health were the 7th highest (2.86%)
- Domestic abuse came 9th (1.41%)
- Delayed wages sat at 10th highest (0.81%)
The Trust have a network of over 420 foodbanks, operating out of more than 1,200 centres nationwide, to provide a minimum of 3 days emergency food and supplies to those in need, particularly in crisis situations.
The most recent figures for over the 2017/18 period, they gave crisis parcels to over 1.3 million visitors. These visitors include the elderly, the infirm and young babies.
They have facilities that can be used by those that are referred by a care source, including health visitors, doctors and social workers, so those that may be too embarrassed to walk in for help themselves, can still benefit having been referred for a package (as it takes a lot to walk into a foodbank and ask for help!). They are issued with a voucher for a package, thus ensuring that the crisis donations given go to those in real, dire situations.
However, for 2018 they are going one stage further, and are not just offering food crisis packages, but other services, including baby basics.
The supplies and services available will now include:
- Supplies for infants
- Professional Financial Advice
- Debt Help (including budgeting and money management classes)
- Cookery Courses
- Holidays Clubs and Free Meals for Children
- Fuel Banks
Each of these sub-services builds a wider long-term agency to help break the cyclical nature of poverty and homelessness.
One further addition this year is a scheme to collect and hand out presents for children who visit the centres, so that no child suffers an abominable Christmas.
It’s something that I feel passionate about. Not because I’m an activist do-gooder, who wants to make myself feel better and try and change the world, but because it is something that actively upsets me, and that people suffer against a will that they cannot always change. In turn I’d like you to feel passionate about it.
We should all do more, but we do not; life gets in the way, it isn’t always as obvious to us as it needs to necessarily be for us to recognise, we forget, the list goes on.
This festive period, TDM are running a collection of foods, store cupboard goods, baby basics and children’s presents to be donated to the local Trussell Trust. We are asking, alongside everyone within the business itself, local business to join us in our donations so that we can make one, large (and hopefully impacting!) donation to the Kent Trussell Trust.
This is also a shout out to all local sites of businesses that we work with; on days throughout November/early December, we will be collecting goods from businesses to join us in our donations. If you are happy to partake please contact us and we can arrange the rest. It can be as simple as a carton of long-life milk, or a box of toilet rolls, through to a tub of Heroes to add a little cheer to an otherwise very bleak Christmas.
I suppose the real question, and point to reflect upon as we come to an end, is how would you feel, and want to be treated, if you were in a situation of poverty? Perhaps you had no resources to fall upon to feed your children, or felt trapped in a no-win situation with no way out?
For more information please contact a TDM consultant, Louise (People, Learning and Development Manager) or Chris (Marketing Executive). However, any donations are due in by the 6th December.