Stoke Community Lunch

by CllrZoeFranklin on 22 January, 2013

Last week I attended the regular community lunch held at St Peter’s Church (opposite Bellfields’ Green). The topic for discussion was a continuation of the theme that we’ve had for the last few sessions – the impact of the economic downturn. It sounds a bit distant when I say it like that been it has been a deeply moving, eye-opening and challenging topic. This session each of the reps from different local agencies shared any new recurring issues that had surfaced – the overwhelming one was that more and more the reps were having contact with households who were concerned about how they will survive week-to-week on their income and feed their families. Within that families were commenting that they could probably scrape by during the school term but when the holidays came they didn’t know how they would afford to feed their children.

Thankfully we didn’t have to sit discussing what we could do to help and draw a blank as to how to help as Pauline from the Salvation Army and Steve from St Clares, Park Barn had come to inform us of the work the are doing through their food banks. Both explained that their food banks operate through a voucher system where agencies such as midwives, social services, CAB and many more are able to give a voucher to a person who is struggling so that they can come to the food bank and collect enough food for three days (the food parcel is tailored to their houshold size and can include pets).

A particularly interesting point came from Pauline and bore out what had been said in group discussion earlier was that since June 2012 they were seeing more families needing assistance.

These are sad days. Household budgets are being squeezed from every side and to an extent this is inevitable given our years of overspending as a society. However, I fundamentally believe that it’s wrong that any household should find itself unable to afford food. I also believe that it highlights something very wrong with the way society is working when the number of families in that situation is growing. I don’t have the fix-all answer but I am deeply grateful that organisations esxist that can help those who find themselves in crisis.

I would encourage you if you find yourself in crisis financially and not knowing how to provide for your family please speak to someone. Your local church, Citizen’s Advice. Guildford Borough Council Housing Advice, Surrey Law Centre, Guildford Action for Families, your doctor, social services, your lcoal community safety warden and your local school call all find support and if appropriate provide a food bank voucher.

Alternatively if you find yourself able to live comfortably on your income please consider contacting either the North Guildford Food Bank at St Clare’s (07583 025435) or the Salvation Army Food Bank in town (07952 092735) to make a donation of food.

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