Britain’s Shame

Food bank collection

My husband son and I often visit old churches for architectural and historical interest. In the last year or so in many churches here in the North there can be found boxes like the one above for the purpose of collecting donations for local food banks. Incidentally some of these are situated in areas that one would not generally consider deprived, such as Cartmel in the Lake district, though as my son remarked the food bank is probably in the nearby town of Ulverstan. Ullverstand however does not exactly spring to mind when you consider poverty. If people are struggling in such places what is it like in big cities I have to ask. A sad sign of the times, times we thought had been consigned to history as the present right wing government of the unelected and financially over privileged destroy our welfare system. During the last two years or so the government by means of vicious cuts to benefits have plunged the sick, disabled and the unemployed deeper and deeper into poverty with no recourse other than having to reply on the generosity of others. And one has to say such generosity is not as forthcoming as it might well have been as the government have so successfully poisoned the minds of those fortunate enough to be genuinely able to work and who have not been made unemployed, as is the case for an astonishing 2 million plus people.

Recently I received details of a campaign to ensure that children living in poverty are entitled to free school meals

The following campaign is aimed at Michael Grove  to make sure 700,000 children don’t go hungry on a daily basis:

https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/free-school-meals#petition

Please take the recommend action and consider the following:

According to this report too many children in the UK are going hungry:

“Many studies have shown that hunger affects concentration, and that well-nourished children fare better at school. The government has agreed to allocate money to help schools in the poorest areas establish breakfast clubs. And it has promised to look at extending free school meal entitlement, to ensure that the children of the so-called ‘working poor’ do not go hungry at lunch.

We have also recommended that free school meals should be extended to all primary school children, starting with the most deprived areas. This is the only one of our recommendations that the government has not agreed to yet. We understand that the considerable cost and the need to involve other departments make it a big ask. But we are pleased that the Secretary of State agrees with us in principle and we would urge schools and councils to consider funding universal free school meals themselves.” http://www.schoolfoodplan.com/plan/

More information:

A report has recommended that all primary children should have free school meals

“The government should introduce free school meals for all primary school pupils, starting with the most deprived areas, a report for the government on school nutrition has recommended.

Extending free school meals beyond the poorest pupils will cost around £1bn but the education secretary, Michael Gove, is understood to be supportive of the move in principle.”

Read More:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2013/jul/12/primary-pupils-free-school-meals

Surely we have to question why children go hungry in twenty-first century Britain,  the 7th richest country in the world !

It is shameful that in a rich country people including of course their children are going hungry and food banks are under enormous pressure to provide people with the basics of life, namely food. The added disgrace of allowing children to go hungry is shocking.   Furthermore it is not only the “working poor” it is also people on benefits who have seen a sharp drop in their income which at a time of ever increasing price rises has left many people deprived and in poverty. I would here just like to point out the outrage of the term “working poor”,  two words that should not be used in the same sentence, no one who works should be poor, each and every person regardless of their type of work should be paid a living wage. Life is precious we should not be compelled to while away our lives scrimping and scrapping to get by on wages that are exploitative and do not provide a decent standard of living not only for essentials but to ensure that everyone has a quality of life beyond the basics. Working forty or more hours each week,  most people work considerably more,  for a pittance and needing to go to food banks is a moral outrage while employers are laughing all the way to the bank and living life styles far in access of their needs.

Moreover no one who needs benefits by reason of disability, sickness or unemployment should have to have their  already difficult lives made worse by impoverishment. Often we hear the phrase “make work pay”. People complain that those on benefits are better off than many who work. And as a solution many advocate a reduction in benefits. However this does not solve the problem of poor wages and instead plunges disadvantaged people into poverty. Think about it, if a person on a benefits has their income reduced how does this benefit the low paid? People on unliveable wages will not get any more money. Instead of thinking it right to reduce benefits to make work pay how about increasing wages to make work pay.  Sadly the fact that children are suffering the consequences of welfare reform and austerity measures seems to escape the notice of those who consider that reducing benefits is the right thing to do.

It is as though we are taking steps backwards to a time that many people thought had been consigned to history! The coming changes to benefits in the autumn is of great concern to those of us who consider that everyone should have enough money for life’s essentials. One of the greatest concerns is that such changes will hit poor children in Britain hard. The very idea that here in the UK a child will be at school hungry is beyond shocking, it is inhumane and not worthy of any country that wishes to be considered as moral and socially progressive.

Children, the unemployed, the low paid and the sick and disabled are not the only people hit by a drastic reduction in living standards, many retired people living on a basic pension find themselves with less disposable income than an eleven year Old!

“Shocking research has revealed that two million pensioners have less disposable income then the average 11-year-old. The report revealed that this group has an average state and private pension bringing in £154 a week, but average living costs of £146.90. It leaves them with less ‘pocket money’ than the average 11-year-old – who is given £8 a week by their parents.

And things are getting worse.”

Continue reading:

http://money.aol.co.uk/2013/06/27/pensioners-have-less-to-spend-than-an-11-year-old/

It is surely time to question the ethics of anyone in the 7th richest country in the world living in poverty while others have far more then they need.

Someone once said:

“I want to make sure that my Government always looks after the elderly, the frail, the poorest in our country.”

It may surprise you that that someone was David Cameron whom it now appears is hell bent on destroying our welfare system

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2 thoughts on “Britain’s Shame

  1. We can wonder why any of us are disposed to engage in behaviors that harm others. We hear all kinds of excuses such as efficiency, profit, “had to be done”, but do any of the excuses offered trump harm to others? Everyone has values out the kazoo but avoiding harm to others appears to carry little weight. I’m fairly comfortable with taking the stance of doing no harm over pretty much anything else. It seems to work fairly well but it also seems to not be too popular. The future looks grim.

    If your Mr. Cameron is being driven by “numbers”…it may be that he, like many other “sensible” people were victims of bad math (which they should have checked themselves). You can read about it here: https://chronicle.com/article/UMass-Graduate-Student-Talks/138763/

    • I wholeheartedly agree I think avoiding harm to others supersedes profit, efficiency, technological or medical advancement, as in the case of harming animals to advance medical science or harming both animals, including our selves, and the environment for things such as low cost energy. This is the excuse given for the seriously environmentally destructive process of fracking which is being carried out here in the UK and which will present health hazards to human and non human animals by contaminating the water supply, polluting the atmosphere, causing earthquakes and sorts of disruption to peoples lives and the destruction of our countryside.

      Like you I take the stance of doing no harm or as little as humanly possible over everything else. Most certainly over profit and greed. Sadly as you say many people, particularly governments and corporations, do not take into account the importance of doing as little harm as possible and either find some way to justify what they do to appease their consciences, though I doubt few of them have much of a conscience, or to appease the public. Frankly I consider many members of governments and corporations to be sociopaths and consider this quite likely with regard to David Cameron and a number of the members of the higher government echelons.

      The linked article was interesting, you cannot imagine such a mistake being made let alone not being noticed, though I rather think that the financial crisis is not real but rather a way to control and enslave people. A way of allowing governments to keep wages low, reduce living standards, in other words a means of exploitation. I have no real understanding of the western economic system but view it as a complex web of entrapment, the major cause of misery in the world which results in the death of millions by starvation, when in reality there is enough food for everyone. After all since the financial problems what is different, what in actuality has changed in real terms. We still have the land to grow crops which could provide the entire population of the planet with enough food without the need to kill any sentient creature or destroy the rain forest. We have enough resources to build homes and the technical now how to provide clean energy cheaply. All the world’s resource are there just as they were before the financial crisis. Too Simplistic I know.

      Here in the UK the right wing conservative government are using the so called financial crisis to impose austerity measures and to destroy our welfare system and free health care and in the process destroying small businesses while giving tax concessions to corporations who are destroying the planet and exploiting both human and non human animals and the very earth itself. It is as though a war has been waged on the sick and disabled and the excuse to do this has been that the country cannot afford the welfare bill, yet it can afford to give tax cuts and even waive taxes to corporations and wage wars in other countries. People are not the only ones to suffer this austerity insanity, the RSPCA has reported the abandonment of thousands of animals including 7,000 horses who their owners cannot afford.

      The harm that a hand full of people do to millions of others is heart breaking yet it goes on and on . You are right the future looks grim for all beings including the very earth we live on. This could be a much better world for all creatures if only we could bring an end to greed and exploitation and recognise that all beings wish to live free from exploitation, abuse and any kind of harm. I know you will agree that what we need is a vegan world.

      Well better not ramble on anymore. Thanks you for your comment and for the interesting link

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