On Thursday night, I had a cracking time at Alistair Griffin’s gig in Birmingham’s Old Joint Stock Theatre. Supported on the Birmingham leg of the tour by the fabulous Louise Petit, it was an intimate performance for a crowd of around 100 guests. Punctuated with little chats between each song, and even getting the crowd involved with a little sing-along at the end of the set, it really was a fantastic evening!
But it wasn’t your ordinary gig – everybody who attended was asked to bring with them a tin of food, which would then be donated to The Trussell Trust – which operates the largest food bank network in the UK – along with the profits from the Food Bank tour. Towards the end of the night, we were told the 5-date tour had raised around a tonne of food for those in crisis!
This is a particularly important time to increase people’s awareness of food banks. In the last 12 months, the number of people using food banks has tripled to nearly 350,000, meaning a huge number of people in the UK have so little money after paying their bills, they can’t afford to eat. Food banks, though, are there to fill those desperate gaps created by Government, making a huge difference to people’s lives across our nation, not just by providing food for those struggling to make ends meet, but by helping to prevent crime, housing loss and family breakdown – all of which would increase without the support of local food banks.
And don’t think all the people in receipt of food bank support are out of work, as many actually hold down jobs and are often referred to food banks by front-line professionals such as doctors and social workers. And that highlights a huge problem in our society – people are going out to work, day in day out, trying their best to make ends meet, but at the end of the week, don’t have enough money to feed themselves and their families.
There are lots of reasons for this, and it isn’t because people are living beyond their means. Since 2000, the price of food has increased by around 40%, rents have continued to rise and energy bills have rocketed, while over the same time, wages seem to have stagnated. That means, once again, it’s low earners – the poorest people in our society – who are left to take the full force of Government cuts, to such an extent that they struggle to put food on the table.
These are proud people, people who want to pay their way, but sometimes find it impossible to do. And it’s that which has seen this huge increase in the use of food banks, people relying on the goodwill of others purely to survive. Is that really the outcome of David Cameron’s ‘big society’?
In 2013 Britain, it shocks me that food banks would even be needed, but they are, and they really are a lifeline to families up and down the country, so hats off to Alistair Griffin for raising awareness of The Trussell Trust. Alistair’s also hoping to add some more dates to the Food Bank Tour this year, so if you can, make sure you go along for an amazing night! Also, be sure to check out Louise Petit’s music – it really is stunning!