READING TIME: 3 MINUTES

Basingstoke’s foodbanks: “A haven for job-dodging scroungers?” or a lifeline?

Sharing the late ‘George Michael’s’ view that personal charitable donation giving isn’t something you should share across social media (unlike the recent $500,000 charity claim by the Kardashians!), I feel rather awkward writing this blog article.  However, I was recently inspired after watching the BAFTA (Outstanding British Film of the Year 2017) winning film –  I, Daniel Blake – to start putting something into the foodbank box at my local supermarket in Basingstoke, each week.

If you haven’t watched the film, it’s a moving tale about a recently widowed man called Daniel who finds himself unable to work following a heart attack. Along with highlighting his lengthy and tragic battle to receive the benefits he’s very entitled to receive, it also reveals the story of a woman called Katie and her young daughter.  Through them, Daniel first experiences the plight of families forced to use foodbanks because they’re just trying to survive. Due to benefit delays, he eventually finds himself falling victim to poverty too.

According to latest annual report by The Trussel Trust, 26% of people who use foodbanks are forced to because of benefit delays.

One in five people in the UK live under the poverty line

Faced with these humbling statistics, putting an item or two in the foodbank box at the supermarket each week seems like such a small yet significant thing to do, doesn’t it?

Like many, I’ve never been properly starving with food cupboards that are bare, so it’s difficult to understand what real hunger would feel like. But all of us can. Demoralising. Frightening.

“That would never be me…or could it?”

You’ve worked hard all your life, but fate deals you a bad hand.  Perhaps you get made redundant and find it difficult to get another job. Maybe you get a long-term illness or someone close to you dies and life just fall apart.  Without a regular income, you rapidly start going through your savings.  Under extreme stress, you find it difficult to function and it seems impossible that you could ever get back to where you were – and with no confidence, who’s going to give you a job anyway? Demand letters start to arrive and you’re forced to start selling your possessions just to put food on the table.  This is exactly what happened to Daniel Blake.

Last year, Shelter revealed than one in three families could not cover housing costs for more than a month in the event of a job loss. It also highlighted that 16.5 million adults have no savings.    

The average price for a semi-detached house in Basingstoke now stands at a staggering £270,000, meaning young families starting on the property market are faced with paying high rents or mortgage payments and that’s before they’ve even purchased the everyday essentials.  It’s easy to see how – given a certain turn of events – this could go wrong, fast.

“I used to think foodbanks were a meal ticket for scroungers”

How many of you have changed your perception of food bank users since seeing a film, reading a book, hearing a story or speaking to someone who uses them? Your small action of giving might just help a real-life Daniel Blake living in Basingstoke who’s temporarily down on their luck.

So, next time you’re at the supermarket, remember one of these items and put it in the foodbank box:

  • Tinned fruit (in juice)
  • Cooking sauces
  • Tinned potatoes
  • Squash
  • Unisex deodorants

Take a look at the complete list – https://basingstoke.foodbank.org.uk/give-help/donate-food/

Also Like Basingstoke Foodbank on Facebook and keep up to date with items they need – https://www.facebook.com/basingstokefoodbank/