Food poverty is not just a big city problem. Eastern England is 4th out of 12 regions in terms of the amount of emergency food supplies given, according to The Trussell Trust. Barry James - Mid Beds Labour
Barry James - Mid Beds Labour

Growing up in working class and inner city Kilburn, North West London, poverty was a familiar part of the community. There was nowhere to hide it. It was in the estates, in the schools, and up front and obvious along the high street. I could never say my family struggled, but friends and neighbours did.

After leaving home and a short stint in the North East to study, I moved into a high rise block in Shepherds Bush. The now infamous monument to London poverty and inequality, Grenfell Tower, could be seen from my kitchen window. There were lots of shelters and food banks around. But this was central London and was not different to any big city.  The homeless and hedge fund managers rubbed shoulders on the pavement and shelters and 5 bed town houses shared the same block. The contrast was infuriating but certainly not hidden.  used to laugh at the naivety of visitors when they gawped at the homeless people who occupied Shepherds Bush Green.

I moved to Toddington in Mid Beds two years ago with my partner with ideas of starting a family in a leafy home county, surrounded by the middle classes, in a quiet village with nice schools and country pubs. I thought poverty was left behind at the other end of the M1.  Imagine my surprise when I learned that Bedfordshire has regular food banks in areas like Bedford, Luton, Ampthill, Flitwick, and Clophill.

Food poverty is not just a big city problem. Eastern England is 4th out of 12 regions in terms of the amount of emergency food supplies given, according to The Trussell Trust. That’s 57,486 parcels given between April and September this year. While this region includes towns such as Luton and Bedford much of the region is rural and affluent. These people aren’t the homeless of London, Liverpool, and Glasgow. These are the working poor of a wealthy area subject to benefit delays and low pay, the two leading reasons for food bank usage in the UK.

Labour has promised to tackle the causes of food bank usage including increasing the minimum wage to £10 an hour and scrapping the punitive sanction regime.

A vote for Labour is a vote against food poverty.

Here are some links that may be useful if you would like to support, volunteer, or need help:

Bedfordshire Food Aid Network – This local Food Bank helps families all over Bedfordshire. They particularly need donations of UHT Milk, Juices, and Squash. They collect from Co-op in Barton and St James Church, Silsoe.

The Trussell Trust – The Trussell Trust is a national foodbank working in our area that requires referral.

Using a Foodbank – The Citizens’ Advice Bureau’s additional guidance on how to get help.

By Barry James, Mid Beds Labour Trade Union Liaison Officer and Spokesperson for Toddington Branch.

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