It is very heartwarming to see in your paper the number of charities in the High Peak that are seeking to address the problem of hunger locally. However, perhaps we should take a moment to think about what is going on here.
Surely in a modern society, life can be organised so that people don’t have to go hungry and turn to charities. It is almost as if we are going back to the workhouse days and the deserving poor.
In particular, working families should have the support they need to feed their children. If wages are so low and jobs insecure that families struggle, then we must make sure that the taxes they have paid in the past and those we pay now are used to lessen the negative effect on them and their children.
Children are our big investment in life, their health and development should be a priority for us. After all they are the ones who will provide for us in old age. Happy, healthy children will develop into capable, supportive adults. We all know this. That is why schools were celebrating National School Meals week.
For many it is the shame of having to ask for help that makes parents choose to go without food or heat so they can feed their children. A crisis can strike anyone, whether it is illness, losing a job, a disabling accident or the less obvious mental health problems. If you have a low paid job, savings will not go far when your income stops. And yet, of the food parcels given out by the food bank, over half go to people whose benefits have been stopped. Appeals often show the cause to be administrative error. Why? Why should families go hungry because of mistakes of others? This just shouldn’t happen.
The only way we can understand why there is hunger in the sixth richest county in the world is to find out the facts and talk – amongst ourselves and with those experiencing problems – and make sure our policy makers are a part of this.
It is good to see that the High Peak CVS is supporting the Big Conversation to encourage us to do this.
By the way don’t say ‘Where’s the money?’ Recent research has shown that poverty costs us £78 billion every year, through additional spending on healthcare, school education, justice, children’s and adults’ social services and housing and lost tax revenue. That is more than we spend on education, and a fifth of public service spending overall.