I am a bit of a dreamer who also likes to keep grounded. I appreciate the benefits of Capitalism but it has to be tempered with a touch of realism & humanity.
We volunteer at a local FOOD BANK where food parcels are packed up to be distributed to people whose needs have been identified by various agencies & it is always a frenetic packing time - getting your printed list - reading the details which could be any combination of
Family of 6; single person; adult & small child; 2 adults & 3 children; adult & 1 baby; adult & any dog food please and many other combinations too.
The parcels are packed with 3 meals a day for 3 days - short term help only. It is also sobering to read in the local press recently that many parcel recipients might not even have electricity money to heat the food so request tinned food like beans or spaghetti that can be heated very quickly.
Sometimes on a Friday there have been as many as 16 lists to make up & 6 emergency parcels for the weekend. The times I love most at the food bank are when the big retail stores deliver generously & it is carried in en masse & the shelves fill up - I know just how much that food will be appreciated & also realise how quickly it is used up.
I find it very sobering that in a developed nation such as Great Britain, food poverty is still a problem.
The politics behind cuts & back to work programmes are a factor but there is also the human side of the lists - the requests for nappies & infant food, requests for a razor, tweets going out to ask for clothes to wear to a job interview ...
Last night, we joined the stayout2013 cause at our local shopping centre carpark to highlight the plight of those sleeping rough in our modern town. It was a bracing 6.5C outside with a cold wind but the folk there set to making their cardboard homes for the night - many had secured sponsorship for the sleep out.
My wondering star daughter signing in
A local band Loose Lips were keeping spirits high from their covered position
There was a good atmosphere as everyone chatted then fell silent as we listened to 3 former rough sleepers share their stories ...All young, all slept rough after family fallouts - one girl out on her own at 16 on the streets. They spoke openly about their plight, the help they had received & how they are now giving back to help others - inspirational stuff.
The manager came out from the neighbouring McDonalds to offer spare boxes & they provided early morning breakfast ....
The irony for me was that this all occurred on BLACK FRIDAY - a day associated with mass consumerism that is catching on here too. The sleepout boxes in the car park were under the brightly lit McDonald's & BARCLAYS signs, with Christmas trees lit up on the carpark & late festive shoppers carrying their load right past, few even giving the event a second glance ....
We all need to just S T O P and take stock of where we are at this moment in life & give thanks for our blessings, however small they are.
Chatting to many there brought home to me how easily homelessness can strike for many reasons & how we all just need to take a deep breathe & take stock of life again.
As adults & parents, we need to swing that pendulum back to what is really important & that will not be found in the halls of commercialism & greed ....
Never look down on a person unless you're helping them up!
Thank you for reading this - I hope it has given you some insight & that you will donate to a local collection. Spare winter coats, warm clothes & shoes will make a huge difference so sort out your wardrobe & donate them please ....