West Ham MP Lyn Brown discusses the need for food banks


- Credit: Archant

I hope you had a happy Christmas and really good start to this year.

January is always a little depressing, cold, wet, dark. It’s when Christmas excesses weigh heavy on waistlines and bank balances.

That’s one reason our food banks report increased demand in January, when supplies are often low.

Much nonsense is written by those who pretend food banks are only used by people who don’t really need them. Research shows people go without food for three months before seeking help. A report, written by MPs from all parties, concluded that low pay, delays in benefit payments and excessive utility bills are the main reasons people use them. The Churches’ Food Bank agrees and describes many families who typify their clients. Victoria and her partner have a very young daughter. They both worked. Her partner’s earnings, £1,100-a-month, paid their rent. Victoria’s wages covered everything else. Childcare became unaffordable; they fell into debt and she reluctantly left work. They applied for in-work benefits, but were still waiting a month later. The complete, utter indifference of an incompetent, out–of-touch government created this real need. Job losses, pay or hours cuts, low and stagnating wages, rising prices, reduced social security payments and Department for Work and Pensions blunders all compound the damage.

It’s so wrong, in 2015, in the sixth richest country, that desperation humiliates and drives people to rely on neighbours to feed their children and themselves. If you’re able to give, it’s appreciated. Donate to Forest Gate Churches’ Food Bank at Woodgrange Baptist Church, Romford Road on 020 8555 9880; or Stratford at St. Paul’s Church, corner of Maryland Road/Waddington Road on 020 8534 1164. More from Lyn Brown