Whitley CDA is disappointed that the Government chose not to extend free school meal vouchers for this half term. We work on the front line and have very close ties with our local community and we can see how hard people have been affected by the pandemic and know how welcome the measure would have been.
Whitley CDA has been running a food surplus project for some time in direct response to the need we have seen in our community and we wholly endorse Marcus Rashford’s drive to end child poverty. We will be working with all of our partners, to continue to ensure that no child in Whitley goes hungry this half term. Our work will continue beyond this half term. We are incredibly grateful to everyone who has donated and offered support that allows us to do this.
Since the pandemic started we have seen the situation deteriorating significantly. We have seen a marked increase in redundancies, we’ve seen people who were just about managing now barely scraping by and we’ve seen hardship increase amongst members of our community who are least well equipped to deal with it. We know from talking to our partners that service providers are at breaking point.
Several months ago the Joseph Rowntree Foundation warned that charities and the third sector would not be able to keep plugging the gaps that the government leaves. As much as we are overwhelmed with the generosity of our community we know this is not a sustainable solution. It cannot be the responsibility of charities and the third sector to solve this problem as inevitably, eventually, areas that experience the most hardship will find it the most difficult to provide the support.
Over the last ten years, we have seen the number of food banks increase from 42K to 1.9M, we have seen welfare benefits (in real terms) reduced, we have seen in-work poverty increase, we have seen funding for local councils significantly reduced and we have witnessed the consequences.
We are deeply disappointed by the reaction of a minority who try to shame those who are struggling, we invite these people to come and meet with members of our community in order that they can correct their misconceptions.
As a matter of urgency we call on the Government to;
- Increasing benefits that go to families to help with the costs of raising children
- Extending the suspension of benefit deductions to include advance payments – the loans offered to cover the five-week wait for a first Universal Credit payment
- Lifting the benefit cap to ensure this support scheme benefits everyone
Please write to your MP, let them know that this cannot continue.
The measure of a society is how well it cares for the most vulnerable.
Thank you Marcus for raising public awareness of this issue and if ever you are in Whitley please pop in and say hello.