‘Supporting those in need in our area with emergency food aid, counselling, advocacy and guidance’
We aim to alleviate food poverty for the most vulnerable people in our community. We will do this through referral to ensure that those in most need receive the emergency assistance they require. This will be facilitated in a friendly non-judgemental and helpful manner.
Food For Thought April 2017
Why does Food For Thought exist?
For many the thought of the 5th richest country in the world having to give out emergency food aid is an anathema. We understand that sentiment and would fully agree that it should not be the case; but for us here in St Augustine’s we see the desperate need for our Food for Thought project every single day. It makes us wonder sometimes what would happen to the people who come to us if we didn’t exist at all… no, perhaps it’s better not to go down that road too far.
The reality is that we receive referrals from 53 agencies, both statutory and voluntary every day: agencies which are often given money to combat food poverty but still refer to us because they cannot cope with demand or have budget restrictions placed on them or they have exhausted all avenues to public funds and have no one else to call. In many cases individuals and families will have to come to F4Th again and again, sometimes for many months, because their needs are not being answered and their problems are not being sorted through official avenues.
The politics of the situation are complex. Amongst friends and family it is good to discuss national government policies – but in Food for Thought, we do not and cannot. We are here only to provide the service and feed those who are referred to us without judgement, political bias or discrimination. And so we give out food and help those in crisis… sometimes 50 or 60 a week. And their stories are varied.
Here are some of those stories… (all names have been changed)
Anne has been coming to us since just before Christmas. She and her family lived with her elderly Mother who has just passed away. Anne’s siblings are selling the house and Anne will be homeless soon. She had stopped work due to stress and so cannot make ends meet at present. We will feed her and help her organise her money until she is sorted.
The elderly home care team phoned because they noticed Audrey had no food in the house when they went to make her lunch. Audrey explained that the cat had been ill and that she had paid the vet and didn’t have money left over for food. We gave food to Audrey and the cat, until pension day.
Hannah is an older lady; her husband drinks and quite often she has nothing. Her mental health worker phones us now and again to help with the weekly food.
John has been sanctioned by the DWP because he did not apply for enough jobs on the internet to qualify for money. John does not have a computer at home. He does try to go the library to look for work but because of the restrictions on that system he cannot fill in his online diary. DWP staff will not accept a printed version… therefore he gets no money.
Joe was referred to us as he had been released from prison and would have to wait for some 6-8 weeks for benefits to be sorted out. Until then he had no money at all.
Samantha was referred to us by her mental health worker – she had received a diagnosis of terminal cancer and had to leave work. It took 12 weeks for her benefits to come through.
Gillian was referred to us because her partner died. As there was no insurance she had borrowed £1000 from a neighbour to open the plot and start the funeral arrangements. She has been paying this back off her benefits ever since. She has not started paying the balance of the funeral yet. We will support her through this very sad time.
No two stories are the same and for the most part we do not ask. We are happy that the referring agency knows the problem and is satisfied that the individual or family are in real need. We provide 3 days worth of food for every person in the house and will also give pet food if required.
If a single person is referred they receive:
3 breakfasts – Weetabix, UHT Milk and teabags
3 lunches – 2 tins soup and 2 tins of beans
3 dinners – Pasta with sauce and a tin of fish plus a meat product and instant potatoes.
1 toilet roll and 1 packet of biscuits would also be included.
This is not exactly luxurious you may agree but this basic bag costs us around £8. For a family with kids you can multiply this by the number in the household, including formula milk and nappies for babies. Extra food is given to families with teenagers. Toiletries are provided for those moving into temporary tenancies and for those leaving hospital or prison.
So “What would Jesus say?” And “What would Jesus do?” For us who work and volunteer within this very small charity that is the question and what we do is the answer.
To those who support us with shopping, cash and time we always totally appreciate your goodwill and kindness.
We will continue to fight the good fight.
Food for Thought Gallery