Many more people are expected to go hungry this Christmas. I’m not talking about people in far-flung places, but in our own towns and communities. Food banks in the UK are expecting their busiest ever Christmas against a backdrop of growing need.
Generous donations last December meant food banks met demand, but data shows there is significant need in the following months, when donations drop.
The Trussell Trust – who aim to end hunger in the UK – are calling on the public to help people facing hunger during what is expected to be their food bank network’s busiest Christmas to date.
Last December, the trust’s network provided 146,798 three-day emergency food supplies to people in crisis – 61,093 of them went to children.
My constituency office is taking in donations for the Renfrewshire Food Bank. We always accept donations, but we’ve teamed up with the Record’s sister paper, the Paisley Daily Express, for their Christmas appeal to encourage people to think about giving to food banks as they do their shop.
The fact that food bank use continues to grow is a damning indictment of the UK Government’s record which should leave the Tories deeply ashamed.
Food banks do an excellent job of providing for those who need it, but they should not need to exist at all.
Evidence shows that the sanctioning of benefits leads to increased use of food banks, as well as huge amounts of stress on individuals and their families.
I have seen first-hand the terrible effect unfair sanctions have had on the lives of my constituents and the botched roll-out of universal credit, which the SNP are working hard to halt and improve.
The recent UK Budget was a wasted opportunity to end a decade of failed Tory and Labour austerity that has seen abysmal economic growth, stagnant wages and falling living standards.
And just yesterday we learned that all four members of the board of the Government’s Social Mobility Commission have stood down in protest at the lack of progress towards a “fairer Britain”.
Former Labour minister Alan Milburn, who chaired the commission, said he had “little hope” the Government could make the “necessary” progress.
With families facing the longest period of falling living standards since records began and plans for an extreme Tory Brexit set to make things even worse, it is vital that the UK Government take action to boost household incomes and create economic growth.
In the meantime, we should all think about those less fortunate and donate what we can to food banks – especially at Christmas.