Opinion: Let’s stamp out this Dickension injustice

PUBLISHED: 08:30 25 January 2020

City & East Assembly member Unmesh Desai is a fan of Irons Supporting Foodbanks

City & East Assembly member Unmesh Desai is a fan of Irons Supporting Foodbanks


I have been very pleased to be able to support the recent launch of Irons Supporting Foodbanks at West Ham Football Club, a component of the nationwide Fans Supporting Foodbanks scheme, where football fans collect and donate food for the needy.

Having met the committed West Ham fan John Ratomski last year, who had witnessed the success of such schemes elsewhere, the London Legacy Development Corporation and the London Stadium operators allowed the launch of the scheme at a recent home game on December 28 against Leicester.

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I attended the second collection at the Everton game and will continue to support this wonderful scheme which I understand is now also being supported by the club. Football, our national game, sadly sometimes attracts bad publicity but this shows its best side, so well done to the organisers.

The unprecedented rise in foodbank usage in the last few years sadly reflects serious problems in British society. It is a scandal that, in one of the richest countries in the world, we require widespread voluntary initiatives to alleviate these problems. Instead, we need urgent government action and investment to properly tackle our growing issues with poverty and inequality, because community efforts can only stretch so far.

In addition, the spectre of child poverty continues to haunt our communities in East London. A recent report published by the Greater London Authority shows that a staggering 400,000 young Londoners do not have adequate access to food. This issue is particularly acute in East London, where almost a third of children are being left to go hungry. Rest assured, working to stamp out this Dickensian injustice will continue to be one of my priorities at City Hall.

On the same day as the launch of the Irons Foodbank, I attended an impressive vigil at the Bobby Moore statue in memory of Plaistow-born Martin Peters, one of three players from West Ham to play in the 1966 World Cup. He was truly one of the game's greats and rightly described by Alf Ramsey, incidentally the only England manager to have won the World Cup, as being a decade ahead of his time.

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