This morning I visited the Welcome Centre in Huddersfield to talk to them about the #FeedingFamilies project. They are so well organised and provide a brilliant service, but it breaks my heart that in one of the richest countries in the world, vulnerable children depend on food banks to survive.
Since the Conservatives took power in 2010, a million more children are living in poverty. More than 8 million people struggle to put food on the table. For the first time in history under this Government, most people living below the poverty line are also in work. The users of food banks are not a handful of the very poorest – they are professionals, graduates, nurses, teaching assistants, those with two or more jobs struggling to make ends meet. The Conservative Government’s sanctions regime has given the state licence to quite literally starve people – with no justification in most cases; roughly half of all appeals are upheld.
As a former teacher and head teacher, I am all too familiar with children returning to school after the holidays visibly malnourished and underfed. Far from being ready to learn, these children suffered poorer concentration, more challenging behaviours, lower attainment, and physical health problems. It was heartbreaking to see.
I will continue to support our local food banks and tackling poverty initiatives – and fighting in Westminster to stop them being needed.