What’s all the fuss about Food Banks?

First published Monday, May 12, 2014

This morning, thanks to several friends sharing this video on social media, the facts once again hit home on the desperate situation that too many people find themselves in, right now in 2014, in an allegedly civilized country.

There has been a great deal of press coverage of late in relation to food banks, and their increase in numbers. That in itself is a concerning statistic – no one in a civilized and comparatively wealthy society should be in a situation where they don’t have food. It is however only part of the picture.

Here in Pembrokeshire, there are families and individuals who don’t have money for food, for electricity, for clothes, for basic household items. There are parents who will go without food so that they can feed their children with the little food they do have. There are children who, if it were not for PATCH and the Christmas Toy Appeal, would have nothing at the time of year when it is all about giving.

The national figures speak for themselves. Increases in the number of food banks, increases in the number of people needing to access their services. There are also other stories that come to light, about some providers of these services refusing certain foods or restricting access to their services for one reason or another.

In our own county we are seeing demand for help increase. PATCH is a little different from some of the national food banks, because it runs Basics Banks as well. Imagine if you will a situation where you cannot afford to buy your three year old son clothes, or your partner has given birth to your child but you can’t afford to make up the crib with bedding. Imagine not being able to wash or brush your teeth because you can’t afford soap or a toothbrush.

There are various ways you can help, and PATCH operates a variety of additional support schemes you can get involved with.  In the first instance you can donate food, household basics and clothing. You can get involved with the ‘Fill your Boots’ scheme either by purchasing vouchers to give to someone who needs a hot meal but can’t afford one, or by being a provider of those meals if you run a café. The most recent addition to the PATCH offering is the Food Co-operative. For £3 you can purchase a basket of fruit or vegetables for your own use, or perhaps buy one and donate it to PATCH. Currently only available from the Milford Haven HQ, it is hoped that the scheme will grow and be available more widely in the county. Of course you could also consider hosting a fundraising event, or even just set up a standing order to give a few pounds each month to enable the team to purchase food and basics for others in need.

Above all else, one of the greatest things you could do to help is to simply help raise awareness. Poverty, and the harsh realities of it, exists right here in Pembrokeshire. It is time to stop burying our heads in the sand and pretending that the problem will go away by itself. It needs tackling, talking about and for each and everyone of us doing something, however small, to make a difference.

 

For further details on the work of PATCH please click here.

This news report, presented by PATCH volunteer, Rosalyn Wild, provides some additional information on the challenges faced in Pembrokeshire.

 

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