You may have seen a number of letters in the EDP relating to the definition of poverty – arguing the relative merits of the past and present definitions and discussing where the 60% of average earnings is decided. The politicians in the locality are also getting involved. None of this would concern me overmuch but they insist on drawing the Norwich Food Bank into the equation and inferring that we support scroungers by feeding in excess of 8000 people in Norwich this year.
I feel this to be totally misleading. Yes we may well feed this amount of persons which will include some 40%of children in the total. Some facts should be made plain to the general public as follows. We are a “hand up charity” not a “hand out” one. We personally do not assess any person or persons in order that they meet our criteria for food. This is done by professional care agencies across Norwich who issue vouchers which are then redeemed at our distribution centres in and around the City. The most vouchers that they can issue is three to any one person or family who meet the criteria of “dire need” and/or “emergency crisis”. Each voucher is exchanged for three days worth of food. We will go further in issuing more vouchers but not if the original recipients are doing nothing to help themselves out of their predicaments. It should also be made clear that about 50% of people served by us are in difficulty over benefits.
Anything that infers that we support scroungers or that we are long term support is an insult to the very generous support we receive from Churches, Supermarkets and individuals in the way of food supplies. We also receive a great support from a number of volunteers who give of their time freely, from business organisations who support us with events etc.
Norwich Food Bank is a Christian organisation dealing with people with a variety of problems in an area in the top 20 deprived areas throughout the United Kingdom and in the top 5% for child poverty. Rather belies the phrase “Norwich is a Fine City” don’t you think?