Tuesday, 31 December 2013

How to claim your free food

I always thought that you needed a referral from a GP, Job Centre, or social worker in order to be eligible for assistance from a food bank. Not so apparently:
The Bristol NW Foodbank voucher holders are care agencies, charities and other organisations who come into contact with vulnerable families or individuals in our local community, who may find themselves in crisis and in need of a food package from the Foodbank. This is intended as a short term help, until the agency is able to help their client resolve their situation.
If you are part of an organisation that is working with people in crisis who would benefit from this service and you would like to become a voucher holder, see the contacts page for contact details.
Agencies registered with us working across NW Bristol
  • 1625 Independent People
  • Addiction Recovery Agency (ARA)
  • Age UK Bristol
  • Big Issue
  • Bristol Black Carers
  • Bristol CC Tenancy Support Service
  • Bristol Central Job Centre
  • Bristol Citizens Advice Bureau
  • Bristol Crisi Prevention Fund Team
  • Bristol Debt Advice Service
  • Bristol Drugs Project
  • Bristol Early Intervention Team
  • Bristol Health Trainers
  • Bristol Home Start
  • Bristol Hospital Education Service
  • Bristol Intensive Team
  • Bristol Later Life
  • Bristol Mental Health Crisis Team
  • British Red Cross Fire and Emergency Support Service
  • Bristol Specialist Drug and Alcohol Service
These are only the first 20 organisations on the list. There are loads more including schools, a cafe (yes, really!), and unbelievably churches. Given that the Trussell Trust franchisees tend to be church-run, this is hardly an independent check for eligibility. Worse still, one of the big players in the poverty industry, the Child Poverty Action Group can issue vouchers. They wouldn't exist without so-called "child poverty" so it's obviously in their interest to perpetuate it. They can claim an increase in child poverty by an increase in food bank referrals, referrals that they make themselves.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Cure your hunger and your gayness

In Central Liverpool and a bit down on your luck? Can't afford food (and that's your story and you're sticking to it)? Well then maybe the Central Liverpool Foodbank could be your saviour?
Feeding the hidden hunger in Liverpool
Central Liverpool foodbank provides a minimum of 3 days emergency food and support to local people in crisis.
Yep, it's another Trussell Trust franchise run by a church, in this case the Frontline Church:
All of our pastors share a vision to see the city of Liverpool impacted with the good news of Jesus through:
  • A growing network of Missional Communities, giving church members a place of belonging, and reaching out to every man, woman and child in our city region.
  • Church Services in various locations across the city, so every man, woman and child can be part of a vibrant local congregation.
  • Good works bringing social and economic transformation to every man, woman and child in our city.
Which is perhaps most famous for this:
A Liverpool church seeking to help gay men and lesbians "break free" with a 'Homosexuality Fact Sheet' has attracted widespread criticism.The Frontline church said homosexuality was caused by "childhood pain" and offers advice on how to recognise someone struggling with their sexuality.
Note that the police and a housing association have gone to efforts to distance themselves from the church. There's a full copy of the "fact sheet" on the Mail website that's worth a read.

It's pretty backward stuff and does make you wonder just how many other Trussell franchises are out there with similar views...

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Foodbank closures

Ha! Only kidding. Given The Trussell Trust's ambitious expansion plans, I'm of the view that the future of foodbanks is looking pretty good. But this perpetuation is a problem; if you are going to offer essential goods free with few or any checks for need or eligibility then the demand will always be there.

Surely it should be the case that a foodbank success story is one that has to drastically scale back its operations or close because of lack of demand? This can never happen now as expectations have been set; the foodbanks will provide.

I personally don't like the politics around foodbanks. Labour might make political capital out of it now but if elected in 2015, the foodbanks will still be there, still be expanding, and there's only so long they can blame the "Tory's savage legacy" before the fingers are pointed in their direction.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Free food

The Tories are driving the poor into starvation and reliance on food banks to survive apparently. At least that's the impression you get should you read anything in the Left-leaning press or hear a quote from a Labour MP on the matter. Now food banks are for emergencies, perhaps the most common being a delay in receiving a benefits claim. Not great, but the help is there. But then a new benefits claim is going to be an irregular event so being reliant on them is unlikely, which fires up my inner cynic...

You need a referral from the Job Centre, your doctor, social worker, etc. to be able to get help from a food bank. Now faced with a request for a food bank voucher, what do you think that the Job Centre staff, doctors, and social workers are going to do? Get the requester to state their case and challenge their story, or knowing they face an argument and have limited time, just write out the referral? Of course they're going to chose the latter option and take the path of least resistance; of what benefit to them is to refuse? Knowing that free food is on offer, is every claimant going to be 100% honest if there is no disadvantage or sanction for a false claim? I'll leave that for you to decide.

I think the thing that bothers me the most about food banks is the "charity" behind a lot of them, The Trussell Trust. Every article you read about food banks will have a quote from a spokesman about how the brutal and heartless Tories are trying to exterminate the poor, who are only saved from this fate by one of their food banks. So what does The Trussell Trust actually do? Well it's actually a franchise operation masquerading as a charity. Want to set up a food bank in your area but need some help? £1,500 to The Trussel Trust should sort that out with ongoing fees every year. They are very keen on your money as:
The Trussell Trust partners with churches and communities to open new foodbanks nationwide. With almost 400 foodbanks currently launched, our goal is for every town to have one.
Yep, so this is yet another "charity" concerned more with perpetuating itself rather than trying to deal with the underlying causes for its existence. It doesn't even get its hands dirty, that's the job of the franchisees who are volunteers, and not to mention that half of its income goes on staff salaries...