8:00 AM April 16, 2022
Anthony Bernard, highlighting the needy, writes for the Journal.
The needy hardly need highlighting with so much trouble in the news.
The rising cost of living is making it hard for some to put food on the table; mental health is in difficulties; child welfare is suffering; the housing crisis persists, making permanent homes difficult to find or afford. Ukraine refugees need accommodation – but those offering housing find arrangements difficult; Afghan refugees are still in temporary accommodation.
TV shows individuals in trouble, but often with expensive hairdos.
One poor lady was forced to chop wood for her burner, but the camera revealed a bed of hot coals or coke in her burner when putting more wood on the fire. Reporters show poor examples, but the needs are real enough.
Ukraine needs no further amplification, neither the depravity of the invasion, the desperate needs of ordinary people, the wonderful response of everyone in support, the courage of refugee women caring for children while leaving their menfolk to fight for freedom.
Further afield, climate change has created a disaster in East Africa with no rain for three years, where subsistence agriculture was a way of life.
Even the central belt in California is running dry, which provides much of the vegetables and fruit for the USA.
In South East Asia, whole villages, fields and all the crops have been washed away in catastrophic floods.
In summary, everyone worldwide is in trouble to some extent – though in Devon we generally have more than enough to go around, enabling the generosity of donors to plug the gaps.
Exmouth Foodbank has been running since 2012, originally called the Community Larder. Running low on food is the most basic of all needs, so Foodbank usage tells us about the rise and fall of local neediness and shows how it is now climbing to record heights.
The first year of Covid-19, April 2020 onwards, saw demand go through the roof (light green on the bar chart, starting in April).
People who were shielding could not go out for supplies and commercial delivery capabilities were overwhelmed. The foodbank filled the gap which created the big spike in usage.
Previous average demand had been much lower.
The blue bars show the average by quarters from 2013 to 2018, but the red bars show that demand already increased significantly in the year before Covid struck.
The black bars show that demand since April 2021 has been very much higher.
Support to people in need from Citizens’ Advice, East Devon District Council and others has remained the same, except for the Covid-19 year, so the blue, red and black bars show a valid comparison of the growth in real need as reflected by Food bank usage.
Exact details can be found at www.exmouthfoodbank.org.uk
The good news is that donations have kept up with increased demand; Fewer overseas vacations and cruises may have increased spare cash, while job losses in the tourist industry may have contributed to the need. Two adages come to mind…’what goes around comes around’ and ‘it is an ill wind that blows nobody any good’
Rishi Sunak’s furlough scheme kept many things going, but now we are all vaccinated and restriction free we have to balance our own budgets – just as the government has to balance theirs.
But it is not really their money; Government money is our money.
We need to support our neighbors, through donations if not by taxation.