I wish I had food banks when I was homeless

The topic of food banks came up this morning on social media and on BBC Talkback, it’s an area I have particular interest in because when I was younger, I spent some years (fairly important formative ones at that…) homeless. It wasn’t that I was living rough per se. I did spend a good few nights in a car, but rarely consecutively and they were few and far between. I was in my mid teens, this was in the lead up to my GCSE’s, 13, 14 & 15, and I think everyone can agree, exam revision is hard enough without having to worry that when the school bell rang for end of day I would have to check my phone to see if my mother had text me the address of where we were staying for the night. We didn’t have food banks. We had very little of anything.

This isn’t some puff piece about how the system failed us, I genuinely don’t think it did, we (she) failed the system. This is my story of a particularly rough time, and why more should be done for those in dire need and not just sneered at as benefit spongers and people looking for some free shopping, shame on you. If food banks save 1 life, they have served their purpose well.

On most occasions we had a bit of stability in where we were staying, we would be in a shelter type accommodation for a couple of weeks at a time then get moved on to somewhere else. Her and her partner at the time had various issues, not least of which was a love of alcohol above most other priorities (and now I’m a professional alcohol dispenser…so trust me, when I say you’ve had enough…I KNOW you’ve had enough). We were living in a basement flat at the time with a pub not 50 yards from the front step, so most evenings when I got home from school, if they weren’t at the pub by then, they would go straight after dinner. Over time I learned the routine so 3 or 4 nights of the week I would go to friends houses after school so that when I did go home, it would be late and I would just go straight to bed rather than be awake listening to a domestic when they got back. So the booze kept flowing and the rent money dried up, we were evicted by the landlord and were deemed “voluntarily homeless” by the county council. Because her partner wasn’t married to her, he wasn’t included in the situation, he stayed with family members of his…we were then thrown headfirst into the system. The first couple of nights were in drug rehabilitation housing, this was absolutely terrifying, I wasn’t a timid teenager but I was scared for my life the first night there when the previous “tenant” of our room came banging on the door that he left his smack there that afternoon…we didn’t open the door…we didn’t find any smack either. Although there was a used needle on the floor of the (communal) bathroom…drug rehabilitation didn’t seem to be working how I expected. This was the worst, some of them weren’t too bad, but at this point my mother discovered she was pregnant, and there was no stability or healthy environment even on the horizon. I remember staying in a big detached house near the seaside where all the other guests seemed lovely, there was even a cooked breakfast available each morning…then the chef told me that it was a place for people released on parole to stay temporarily until a property was available for them. The system kept a roof over our head most of the time, which I guess is precisely what the system was supposed to do.

There were those occasions where no beds were available, once we got put into a fancy hotel for the night!! A few other times there was nothing available by the close of office hours and there was nothing whatsoever to do…we stayed in a builders workshop, Volvo estate, sofa of a distant relative…a regular from the pub that they had frequented put us up for a weekend (word of advice…never ever spend a weekend sleeping on wicker furniture, your body is not designed for it). Listening to David Vance this morning on his anti-poverty high horse, “we have never been better off than we are now as a society”…perhaps Mr Vance needs to understand the concept of an average…whilst most people might well be doing grand, there are those below average, those sleeping on wicker furniture, those hastily arranging sleepovers with friends as a last resort to the boot of a Volvo estate. We stayed in one place for a few months after my brother was born (half brother technically) it was safe and warm which was all we wanted at the time. 1 room, a 13 year old, a new born baby, my mother, 2 single beds, a fridge & a kettle. It was then that i discovered the art of creativity in a kitchen…you can cook a lot of things in a kettle…I would sterilise his bottle with the steam from boiling and reboiling the kettle, then mix the formula and heat it back in the kettle (making sure the plastic never touched the element otherwise we would need to buy another bottle).

There was income, she had her child support and job seekers or whatever the equivalent was back then, but we lived in a fairly well-to-do area, the cost of living wasn’t cheap, all the moving around meant that I had a daily cost of going to school, it was over £5 a day in return train fare…If I paid, plenty of times there were walls jumped over to avoid ticket inspectors (also, it’s not difficult to hide in the parcel shelf of the old shutter-door trains), this meant I could return the £5 to my mother or buy food with it on the way home. There was no assistance offered with school transport because the council felt that I could move schools each time we changed places, I was going through enough problems without being THE NEW KID every other week. Vance pointed out how cheap it is to eat healthy, well that’s true when you have all the modern conveniences of a fitted kitchen, but trust me…nobody on the Atkins diet is doing it from a kettle alone, or even in the places with a microwave or a 1 ring burner stove, £1 ready meals aren’t the healthiest, but I’m sure David Vance has tried his fair share of those…

There are plenty of other horror stories hidden within my psyche from this trying time, but I got through it and haven’t (yet) been a burden on the NHS for psychiatric help to cope with the repressed issues undoubtedly caused…which I’m sure Vance will again be glad to hear about. Whilst I’m sure there are those who have read to this point and thought “well, you’re here now aren’t you, so what are you complaining about?”…I lived a hell. There is a special kind of feeling that I don’t have a name for, you get it when you know you’re probably outstaying your welcome at a friends house after school for the 3rd time this week purely because you don’t want to return to “your own bed”(and those are very real inverted commas), humiliation doesn’t cut it…something more, more than burden, more than pitiable…but that’s how I felt a lot of the time. Going to a friends house for dinner because it meant you could have dinner and wouldn’t have to poach sausages in a kettle and then use the water to mix some powdered mash…poor-mans-bangers-and-mash. The system did not fail me. But just because it didn’t fail me doesn’t mean there couldn’t have been more done. Who knows, if my mother didn’t have to spend as much on shopping for a couple of weeks maybe she could have saved for a first months deposit on a flat…maybe my brother wouldn’t have spent the first couple of years of his life not being introduced to the concept of “home”. There are food banks springing up because they are needed. You get nowt for nowt…there is a humility unreached by most people in the act of admitting that you cannot do it on your own, that the mere act of keeping a roof over your head, of providing food, shelter, warmth, cannot be met be you alone…that you need help. David Vance does not understand this. There are people all over the country in a similar situation to mine, I got out relatively unscathed, there are those who don’t. If food banks can help people out when they need it most, then I support them and you should too. David Vance pointed out on BBC Talkback that groceries have never been as cheap as they are now…he is probably correct, so why is he begrudging a couple of tins of food going to those who may need it as a matter of survival.

 

People are making a big deal out of how many food banks there are in Northern Ireland now. They should be making a big deal out of why they weren’t around before now. This problem is not new, it has not sprung up in the past year, the poverty line is not just a notion or a headline; for a great many people it is their reality and that is indeed terrible, but this is not a new problem. The kind of ideas that were thrown out on Talkback today by David Vance and a significant(ly worrying) amount of other callers…if that convinced a listener to walk past a can drive in a supermarket, or ignore a plea that they see in the press, that has a very real possibility of meaning a child worse off than even I was could go hungry. If reading this article convinces one of you to pay a bit more attention the next time you see a call for any spare cans of food you have in the back of the cupboard that you keep meaning to use but haven’t…then it was worth the personal memory-searching that went into writing it.

When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist

Hélder Camara – 1909 – 1999 – Archbishop of Olinda & Recife, Brazil

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  • Korhomme

    I can’t say that I was brought up in (financial) poverty because I wasn’t. The emotional aspects, that’s something else.

    But I’m alarmed to discover that there are “at least” 14 food banks here in norn iron. So now that I’m a Christmas is Humbug type, I don’t send cards or give prezzies. I give something to the Trussell Trust, where I feel—and hope—that it will be more appreciated. I also give to Abortion Support. These are two charities whose work here ought to be entirely unnecessary in a civilised country, and yet…

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    Good on you! how trivial to christmas cards seem when there are children who don’t have a meal in the evening because their parents can’t provide one.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Thanks for sharing that, what an experience. I count my lucky stars.

  • Tochais Siorai

    Wow.
    .
    I’ve been hanging around these parts for a good while now but I don’t remember a more powerful piece of writing. Well done, BB.

  • notimetoshine

    Probably the best thing I have read on here in a long time. A great piece of writing and something that really made me pause and think.

  • Jen Stevens

    In some ways I’m disappointed in the government that food banks need to exist. What are our taxes for? Food should be part of the welfare state which is designed to help folks like you when you were growing up. It’s a failure. It shouldn’t be charity. That said I don’t do cards for this reason either and donate usually to addiction or homeless charity appeals. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Zeno3

    It seems appropiate to bring this up. Support this local fund raiser for young people.

    It was made in Belfast and Newcastle and all money raised goes to the Prince’s Trust who support young people by helping them get jobs or start businesses.

    You can buy it on iTunes. Amazon. Deezer etc…………. 99p

    http://youtu.be/MHuCwsWcrpA

  • Comrade Stalin

    This is an important story, not least to me as I thought the state was supposed to protect people from situations like this.

    For a start I had always thought the Housing Executive had a duty to ensure that people were not homeless and that priorities were given to mothers. If the parent(s) are unable to escape alcohol/provide for their family then I would have thought this would be grounds for taking kids into state care.

  • chrisjones2

    The problem is that Food Banks are great but dont address the core problem>Some of those who are alcoholics for example will take the food and sell it for drink

  • Katie-o

    Thank you for this.

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    Happy to share if people can take something from it!

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    Could say the same if benefits, housing support, child benefit, job seekers, state pension, that is an endemic issue unrelated to food banks,food banks help people who need help, so help foodbanks

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    State care is a last resort. And it’s an overwhelmed system at the best of times, where I was especially.

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    Some councils in uk do subsidise food banks to a certain degree, I’m a fan of the American system of food stamps to a certain degree. Think it does cause some embarrassment but ensures for the most part that money given is money well spent, and would have saved many lives here without a doubt, but you can’t police everything, that’s just life

  • kalista63

    A really great piece.

    Today Vancy says food has never been cheaper, this evening, Paul Mason said it’s never been more expensive. Hmmmm,….which one does on believe? See, Vancy, Call Me Dave and the like want you to focus on .07% of recipients who are getting what’s not due to them. Sod that!

    Many, many times I’ve heard them reminded that over 60% of benefit recipients are actually workers and not once have I ever heard them address that.

    I think it pretty obvious that I think our best times were in the past and our best future is doing the same but better, a state for all with state ran social housing, state owned power supplies, professionals having their social position returned, a return of working class identity and Fek it, we’ll even build a new Concorde to show we can do shyte like that.

    I’m watching Skint as I type, more spite porn from Channel 4 but as usual, it betrays itself because it’s set on an area where generations of workers knowingly risked their lives for their jobs and took pride in their work, themselves and their community.

    The working class didn’t become work shy, work became shy, became rare and now returns as worthless exploitation in the form of zero hour contracts and FEK all rights.

    Give us decent jobs with decent wages and we’ll pay decent taxes so we can afford to take care of ALL of us.

  • Paddy Reilly

    Every society creates a different kind of shortage. In New York, the homeless all live in their cars. Cars are plentiful but apartments in short supply.

    I grew up in a world in which everybody was housed but cars were scarcer than they are today. Telephones were definitely rare. I remember a Council Estate where only one family had a telephone: you could tell from the telegraph poles. I knew the family, the father had the phone for business, he was a plumber or something.

    A little compassion is called for. The seaside Bail Hostel sounds like a good kip: but is rejected for its divergence from normality.

    The normal childhood does not exist: the children of prison governors and chaplains grow up in the care of convicted murderers, the children of do-gooders have parolees or lunatics as house guests, the children of the politically committed have on-the-run paramilitaries as child-minders. If you ever saw the film Son of Rambow about two young boys, one is Brethren and shares a bedroom with his grandmother, another has parents who own an Old Folks’ Home and just leave him there and move to Spain. Los Ricos tambien lloran.

    Whatever your parents do, or don’t do, for a living is going to intrude in an embarrassing way in your childhood in a way that will make you feel abnormal.

  • Dan

    When the Trussel Trust talks about its expansion plans for food banks in the UK, call me sceptical. I’ve little respect for it, and it’s motivation. They want one in very town, regardless of original need….but when they dish out free food, the ‘need’ will be created. Hand it out and they will come.
    Give me small local charity any day of the week over this.

  • Paddy Reilly

    Why would anyone pay for something that is given away free? I have been approached on the street by people wanting to sell (obviously stolen) laptops, but never groceries.

  • Jim £53

    A disturbing read. Thank You for sharing this.

    I’m not against food banks, but I fear them. The government are now using food banks as the new social security. You don’t just walk into a food bank, you have to be processed.
    Even the people that help to run food banks want to see less of them, not more. We don’t want food banks to become the new safety net. We are living in dangerous times, and austerity is becoming acceptable.
    People shouldn’t need to feel grateful for a food parcel. Not today. Some young mothers have to have parcels made so they don’t receive food that needs heated up, even microwaved, because they have no means of cooking. The levels of poverty are hidden.
    We need a safer and more caring safety net, less food banks, more cash, so that people can buy with dignity the essentials.
    This government is proud of its foodbank success. Food banks are almost the last nail in the coffin of the welfare state.
    But I do understand that you needed this assistance when you were homeless.

  • mickfealty

    In terms of unit price The likes of Lidl *are* pushing unit prices down and quite dramatically. Shopping around brings further cost reductions.

    But for most people you need a car to get there so it’s full of the middle classes looking to hammer down their still relatively large weekly budgets.

    Those on the very bottom will need to go to what’s closest which is usually most the expensive outlets. Mason is also likely referencing cost relative to wages/benefit levels.

    Food banks are a piecemeal response by those most socially (not always politically) active in society. Few people on the left or the right believe the state alone possesses the means to alleviate suffering at the roughest end of the poverty scale. But this is testimony to the fact that a system exists and that after a fashion it does actually work.

  • mickfealty

    Which makes it the least transferable means of support.

  • Siún Carden

    It’s one thing to conclude that the system didn’t fail you, but I hope you don’t feel like you could possibly have ‘failed the system’ at 13. Terrifying that some people don’t see the need for a system at all.

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    Not in that sense, no. I feel like the system was there to offer some degree of help, but my parent kind of dodged it or didn’t avail of opportunities. The system can’t help without an outcry if some descriptio

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    Completely agree. In some of the places I stayed, Iceland was the local vendor, a lot of their easy-food (not requiring extensive kitchen gear) isn’t exactly healthy, but is dirt cheap

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    But if you don’t have storage capability, you need to shop more often, and as everyone knows, one big shop per week or fortnight is a lot cheaper than going every day…one of life’s guarantees!

  • Enjoyed the read. Best Wishes.

    Unfortunately, Foodbank food is not available to us.

    Not all FoodBank charities are what they should be! The poorest people are not allowed food from FoodBanks, while advertising that this is who it is for. No FoodBank food is allowed below a certain income, so the poorest are not allowed any food, at all.

    Trussell Trust FoodBank food is only available to people who already get State Benefits. No benefits allowed, no food allowed. Simple rule. See my previous posts for details. https://id.theguardian.com/profile/roughsleeper

    If you have no money, or food, allowed by the state, as in whistleblowers, you cannot get FoodBank food.

    It is reverse common sense logic, where the richer you are, the more FoodBank food that you get, the poorer you are, the less that you get.

    Their excuse being: “it is not intended as a long term solution, just a 1 to 2 time allowance to tidy you over a hardship while on benefits. Therefore, no benefits at all – no food at all”

    I am sure that they are encouraged by State to enforce this, in return for grants, tax concessions, and high salaries.

    It is also the opposite to their advert stories in the newspapers.

    If you want to see where lots of this food goes, that was bought, & given, by good people, with faith, for the poorest, then hang around at closing time of these charities, and watch the mass downloading of the food to scammers/family/friends with mortgaged homes and cars. People that couldn’t possibly be considered in need. It really is a fact, and doesn’t take much research, just takes getting out off a comfy chair to see it.

  • A Morris

    Well done Belfast Barman for dispelling the myths around poverty, I was told by an elected politician who represents one of the deprived areas of NI recently that there are no children going without food in this day and age, in fact his exact words were “wise up who can’t afford to feed their children nowadays” and he was serious and it wasn’t even David Vance! There are children starting school now who have never lived in a proper home their short lives have always been in temporary accommodation. Most of which have Economy 7 heating that despite the name is anything but economical meaning they have the choice between food or heat. I spoke to one young mum last year who walked her child from north Belfast to west Belfast to school in all weathers because she couldn’t afford public transport, she also told me she’d only ever turned on one heater for an hour a day since she moved in to the hostel so she sleep on the sofa with her child because she couldn’t afford to heat the bedroom.

    We have serious misplaced distribution of wealth in NI when you look at the expenses claimed by MLAs to heat offices while children in their constituency go cold.

    I doubt there are too many £1 ready meals consumed in the homes of our elected reps.

    So I repeat your call for those who have this year to give to those who have not, donate what you can to a food bank because despite what the David Vances of this world say, no one queues up for donated food unless they really need it.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    It really is so important the Tories don’t get in again in May. DUP voters: please urge your MPs not to support Tory government after May, it could be crucial. Listening to Osborne trilling about his “success” as Chancellor in the light of the scale of food banks nationally is truly galling. The economy’s growth is 3 years late and only working for people already well off. Meanwhile the rest of the country festers, waiting for the elusive drips of the “trickle down” (a supposed benefit to us all of free market economic theory, so widely accepted as wrong that few serious economists hold to it these days). How Osborne et al get away with their tripe as much as they do, I know not. Well I do, a complicit press owned and run by rich right-wingers.

    Food banks are the tip of the iceberg. PPB over.

  • Practically_Family

    If anyone other than Milliband were at the head of the Labour party I’d be predicting a greater landslide their way than even Blair achieved first time round.

    As it is… I think a hung parliament is looking increasingly likely. If given the chance I’m 100% certain the DUP will throw in their lot with Tories,

  • Practically_Family

    Back when I worked in an adult education centre, we had a “Eat Cheap, Eat Healthy” guru-ess booked in for a serious of talks/lectures. None of which were ever completed (actually the first one was the only one). It started with “by the time we’ve completed our time together you’ll be able to feed a family of four on just xxxx” to which the immediate response from one of the atendees was “When you can do seven on (significantly lower figure) you might be able to teach me something” the first recipes illicited “If I served that slop up to my (S.O.) he’d hand it back.” and it continued in this vein with scorn being poured upon talk of “keeping an eye out for daily specials”, “farmers markets” & ingredients “from your store cupboard”. Until it was abandoned as farce.

    Probably went down well in the W.I. Though.

  • Barneyt

    Something very peculiar that those in most need can’t avail of the foodbanks. If you are on benefits, the implication is that you stand a better chance of feeding yourself, but those with nothing (for whatever reason) get turned away? Crazy

    I am uncomfortable with charities in general. Whilst some causes need charities, others do not…or rather should not. I would like to see a society that has less dependence and reliance on charities. Using charities (and the government do) to fill the gaps is precarious. All it takes it for a major disaster, following by an widespread and aggressive fund raising campaign to render contributors weary. After the Phuquet disaster, many charities lost out. I’ve heard from fund raisers that the response on the streets at the time was, “sorry, I’m tsunamied out love”. Its not the way to run a society.

    But what do we do? We can withdraw the charities. Perhaps we can take the charities such as the heart foundation, and others that can be attributed to a specific field, and use their might to force governments into doing something. Charities in many cases represent parallel taxation, however you could also argue that its voluntary and folks can do as they please with their earned cash.

    The reality is that we are caught between the two. Charities and the work they do is so embedded, it cannot easily be unpicked and transferred to those that have the responsibility. Combined with governments who argue that charities rather than governments are better dealing with many issues we face in society, there is unlikely to be any withdrawal.

    There are many arguments to retain charities i.e they continue to exist as the government changes, but its not the right way to run a society.

  • Morpheus

    One of the most nauseating things about the Tories is that they are not even trying to hide their disdain for those whom they see as the underclass, those who can be used and abused when the elite say so.

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    Once again the belfast online community have astounded me, when I was writing this I was filled with doubt on sharing, not so much that I didn’t want to tell people my story, but that it would seem self serving or a bit preachy. I wanted it to be a riposte to those who think that poverty is not real; the response has been phenomenal and I’ve spent a decent amount of time directing people towards a way to help. One kind person (@tyndyll) even set up a URL (www.nifoodbanks.org) as an easy to remember site pushing people to a UU blo I had reposted on my wordpress highlighting where food banks where in NI and how to get in touch. I said in my article
    “If reading this article convinces one of you to pay a bit more attention the next time you see a call for any spare cans of food…then it was worth the personal memory-searching that went into writing it.”
    and the response has been so much more than I could have hoped for. I will keep at this because it is an important cause, and I hope the good people of NI (and slugger!!) will do what they can, that doesn’t mean donate…everyone has different circumstances, it means tell someone about an appeal, RT a can drive..even just to help remove the social stigma.

    People of Norn Iron, you’re (mostly) alright!!

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    I was told by one MLA (proudly…) that their area had one of the lowest unemployment levels in northern ireland, and one of the lowest inner city unemployment levels in the UK. I challenged this because I know the area well enough and couldn’t see how this was possibly true.. they then followed up with “well we do have one of the areas with higher deprivation, but that’s because of the long term sick etc”…

    I know a wins a win but come on…have some decency. then again, their wife worked for them and whilst I was awaiting the meeting, in a conversation with me about employment in the area said “sure all the jobs are being taken by them ramadamers”

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    it’s not a case of saying to yourself “you know what, I fancy a free bag of shopping today” and off to the food bank you go… there are multiple hoops to jump through, not least of all the hoop of humility, food banks are not a happy place where people get free chocolate bars and children are smiling from ear to ear.. It’s a solemn place of abject necessity, where people feel they have hit their lowest ebb.

  • Old Mortality

    Barney
    ‘I would like to see a society that has less dependence and reliance on charities.’
    Is it not admirable that people give their time and material support to those they believe are in need? Do you find it more appealing to impose a compulsory levy on people’s money through taxation and pass it on to others whom you deem to be deserving?

  • Old Mortality

    It’s noteworthy that none of the comments so far have mentioned Barman’s mother’s alcohol abuse which, to his credit, he openly acknowledges as being the principal cause of their insecure existence. The state can hardly be blamed for such indiscipline, other than it’s failure to remove a child from such unsatisfactory circumstances.

  • A Morris

    If a parent is struggling the state should strive to assist them and not simply by taking their children into care as that should only ever be a last resort. The cost both financially and emotionally of placing a child in care for life is astronomical, whereas it would only cost a fraction of that to provide social housing and support for the parent so they can care for their own child. The answer to societies ills and disgraceful child poverty rates will not be addressed by putting kids in care who then statistically have lower rates of educational achievement and a greater chance of ending up in prison.

  • A Morris

    Publically they’ll say all the right things about need for social care and support for the most vulnerable but get many politicians speaking ‘off the record’ they’ll tell you something completely different.

  • Dan

    You want to go back to the ineptitude of those woeful corrupt Labour, idiots?
    Seriously?

    ( don’t take that as an endorsement of the Tories)

  • eireanne

    listen to what a 35 year old Englishman had to say the other day about his daily life as poor and unemployed
    https://eurofree3.wordpress.com/2014/12/09/hunger-and-the-uk-working-class/

  • Alicia Ruth

    I wish you could speak to my Y11 students in January. They need to know just how fortunate they really are.

  • Alicia Ruth

    I have been a firm supporter of food banks for many years and wish they were not needed. The astounding thing that shines through to me is that through all this-you were going to school, trying to revise, you are tribute to your own determination to survive.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Yes (without the woeful, corrupt idiot bit). Really it’s the only party seriously interested in tackling the actual long term social issues in our country.

  • Michael

    Food banks are a response to the problem not a resolution to it!

  • mickfealty

    Yes, very true. I think there’s work to be done here in the long term on an anti inequality agenda (more than an equality) agenda so to speak to find ways of leveling up that doesn’t leaver everything to the market to sort out. Some stuff Iceland does is both cheap and healthy, but a lot of the really cheap stuff isn’t.

  • Dan

    …or a response which increases a problem for its own selfish agenda

  • Barneyt

    Its not as simple as “ban charities and raise more taxes”. The good thing about charities is that they can be used to fund needed causes and campaigns, that perhaps governments would like to get rid of. So, I recognise that they serve a purpose.

    I know many would prefer to voluntarily donate than have it levied at source. I understand that. The problem is that donating tends to emotionally unburden, and in many cases is a one off act. In summary there are negatives and positives to charity.

    My point is that I do not want core health initiatives to become reliant on charitable donations or handouts from a national lottery. It leaves an essential service at risk.

    I want to see governments fund cancer research as an example, from start to finish. They can not only help produce a cure, but create jobs and further medical advance in the process. That’s one example. The cynic in me however believes governments would prefer that one of the large international pharmaceuticals arrives at a marketable and profitable cure.

    Charity is made up of thousands of bodies and organisations, with not much cross over. Presently the causes that are most fashionable or cute secure most of the funding, so we collectively are already deciding whom is deserving over another.

    I am talking about societal change and a much wider consideration for how we conduct ourselves as human beings. Its is a hornets nest of course.

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    Nothing will persuade a Y11 student how fortunate they are 😉 I remember those days well!!! I actually did ok in my exams too, mostly B’s and C’s, only 2 subjects below that and i’m still not sure graphic design is a real subject :/

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    Putting me or my brother into care may have been a brief solution but the original problem would still exist and it would have created another. The onus should not be on the government sweeping in and cleaning up a mess, but the facilities must be there to help those who have a mess in need of sweeping, to help themselves. As I said elsewhere, the checks and balances in place for situations like mine are only going to work if there is an outcry, sailing below the radar means it has to be as easy and accessibly as possible for people to reach out and take advantages of the opportunities around them, be that food banks, shelters or whatever else

  • South Belfast Foodbank

    This is just not true. Anyone who comes with a voucher which are held by a wide range of agencies both statuatory – health trusts, doctors, schools, social services etc and charities eg Red Cross, Simon Community, St Vincent de Paul to name but a few, will be given food. We are totally about feeding local people and certainly do not give food to friends and family! I find that comment most offensive. Everything is weighed in and weighed out. We take our stewardship of the kindly donated food very seriously. We are all volunteers who give of our time to help all those in need.

  • Just got this out of my spam.
    Sorry, but it is true at this side of the pond. I was there from the inception of the FoodBank, and cannot get any food, because of these rules.
    The illusive vouchers from organisations that we are not part of, or don’t exist in our towns, don’t help in the slightest. The downloading here is very observable