After watching the award-winning film I, Daniel Blake on Sunday evening, I felt compelled to write an article about the plight of hungry people living in the UK and how our local community is striving to help.
The film is about a 59-year-old widowed carpenter who had to rely on welfare after a heart attack left him unable to work. Despite being declared unfit to work, the authorities deny him benefits and tell him to get back to work. As he navigates through the bureaucracy of the appeal process, Daniel meets Katie, a single mother who is struggling to raise her two children on her own.
I am not going to give any plot spoilers for those who haven't yet seen the film, but there is one scene in a food bank which was heartbreaking to watch. It was shot in a real food bank with real food bank volunteers, and the people who use the food bank were cast as extras. Shockingly, this powerful and dramatic scene is the daily reality for around 4 million people in the UK who are living in food poverty (source: Food Ethics Council).
The use of food banks continues to rise with the UK's largest food bank network, the Trussell Trust, providing 1,182,954 three-day emergency food parcels to people in crisis in 2016-17 - an increase of 6.4% year on year.
However, less than 5% of food bank clients are homeless, with the majority being working families who are struggling to make ends meet. In fact, the three primary reasons why people are referred to food banks are low income, benefit delays and benefit changes.
What can we as a community do to help?
In the interval on Sunday, one of our committee members, Caroline Evans, spoke to us about the amazing work being done in our community to collect donations, which are then distributed to several food banks in the area. The details of how you can donate, where the food is distributed to and what you can and can't donate are as follows:
Where are the collection points?
Please drop off your donations at any of the collection points listed below:
St James Church, Shere - the collection box is in the South Porch.
Co-op, Shere - there is a collection box behind the counter in the Co-op but this is only for food bought in the Co-op and not for other donated goods. So next time you shop in the Co-op, buy an extra tin and ask the staff to pop it into the box for collection.
St Marks Church, Peaslake - the collection box is at the back of the church.
Pratts Stores, Albury
St Peter and St Paul Church, Albury
Where do the donations go?
The donations are distributed to several food banks in the area including the North Guildford Food Bank (Park Barn), Bellfields Food Bank (Bushy Hill Community Centre), Merrow Food Bank and the Salvation Army.
What can I donate?
The following is a list of suggested food etc. to donate. All items must be within date.
• Tinned vegetables and baked beans
• Tinned fish and meat
• Rice, instant mash potato, pasta
• Pasta sauces (jar or packet)
• Tinned or dried fruit
• Rice pudding and custard
• Long life milk and fruit juice
• Coffee and Hot Chocolate
• Biscuits and snack bars
• Tinned or packet puddings and jelly
• Baby milk, nappies – size 6, baby wipes
• Toiletries and toilet rolls
• Female hygiene products (pads and tampons)
Please DO NOT include home-made preserves, cakes or fresh fruit and vegetables.
Every donation is appreciated and a huge thank you to all the volunteers who help with collecting and distributing food to help people in our communities and beyond.
Thank you :)