'Foodbank', had you used that word four years ago? Was it part of your everyday vocabulary back in 2010? It wasn’t for me. The increase in the usage of foodbanks isn’t because we are more aware they exist, it’s because more people are hungry – we have people in our community who are unable to afford the very basic food we all need to stay healthy, to stay alive. There are many reasons people are referred to foodbanks, it may be a delay in receiving social security, or they may be one of the growing number of people who have been sanctioned, had their benefits withheld for the tiniest of reasons. I have met people who were denied 3 months of their money just because they filled a form in wrongly. The working poor are referred to foodbanks because some are on exploitative zero hours contacts, uncertain when they will be asked to work next, with no way to budget or way to plan for the next meal. This is the reality of a Tory Britain in 2014, propped up by the Lib Dems.
What I hadn’t heard of until yesterday was a clothes bank.
A community in Durham made up of volunteers from the Durham Miners’ Association, Durham People’s Assembly and Trade Unions has opened its doors to those in receipt of benefits to provide the basic items that we all need, such as a warm coat, clothes for growing children, toilet roll and soap.
Members of Stockton South Labour Party would like to make a donation to the clothing bank in Durham. We will be visiting the group who run the initiative on 6th November to learn more about how it is organised and to take with us donations of clothes and toiletries. If you would like to support the clothing bank they also accept items such as toilet rolls and nappies, please get in touch if you’d like to make a donation too. We can take your contribution with us.
'Clothes bank', I don't want these words to become part of our everyday vocabulary like ‘food bank’ has but while we have people in desperate situations, pushed further and further into poverty we must, if we can, do our best to support them and the volunteers that set up these excellent initiatives.
James Wharton MP has tried to suggest that this initiative is “political”. I don’t really know what he means by that. All poverty is political, there are always choices to be made. Do we support our vulnerable friends and neighbours or leave them to their misery? And if it is political, is that a bad thing? Isn’t it the job of a compassionate and empathetic party to make as much effort as possible? As far as I am concerned it is and will always be my job to do everything I can to get behind and support, those in need.
When I was growing up my mother was an Educational Social Worker in Thornaby. She would often come home at night after a long, hard day visiting local families about truancy to ask my sister and me to look out any coats or shoes that we had outgrown so that she could take them to a family whose children couldn’t go to school because they lacked these things. That concern for the vulnerable amongst us has never left me. I am only saddened that later generations of local families are once again in the same situation as their grandparents.
If you want to make donations directly to County Durham Socialist Clothing bank then please contact Dawn Willson on 07707031625.
Donations can also be made at the Miners Hall, Redhill, Durham, DH1 4BD Please let them know it is for the clothing bank.
The Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/Durhamsocialistclothingbank
Otherwise please let me know if I can collect clean, ironed, decent clothes from you before 6th November.
Thank you very much for your care and concern.