Thursday, 17 October 2013

The Stunning Success Of Foodbanks

"More and more are starving!", screamed the usual panic-mongers yesterday.
The number of people relying on food banks to survive has tripled over the last year, according to new figures. 
The Trussell Trust, which runs 400 food banks across the UK, said it handed out supplies to more than 350,000 people between April and September this year. 
The Trust is calling for a public enquiry into why so many people are having difficulty feeding themselves. 
A cross-party group of MPs has been set up to investigate the surge in demand.
The Trussell Trust themselves point out one quite important factor.
It admits that one reason for the rise in the numbers is that there are twice as many food banks in existence as last year. 
But the Trust says the number of people using them has still tripled, and that even the well-established food banks are reporting significant rises in their use.
But they forget to highlight another. Their website proudly boasts how many articles have featured them since December 2010. Put it in a graph and it looks a bit like this.

So an increase in supply coupled with significantly increased awareness resulted in a rise in demand? What else did anyone expect would happen?

The only way you could argue that the increases are directly attributable to more food poverty being caused exclusively by government 'cuts' (as has been the general thrust of most media outrage) is if levels of awareness have been constant. This is quite clearly not the case - access to the banks has been made easier, and millions more people have been informed of the existence of food banks in the past couple of years, as have referrers such as doctors, health visitors, social workers, citizens advice volunteers and the police.

Contrary to the opportunistic political rhetoric of recent days, increased uptake is proof of how very successful the scheme has been. More people than ever before are benefiting from an imaginative partnership between businesses, citizen donors and a philanthropic charity initiative. It is society and community at its best.

It's odd that the same people who forever cite availability and publicity as forcing people to buy stuff are now ignoring availability and publicity as factors in more people using a service that is free.


PeterA5145 said...

You could even say it was "the Big Society in action" ;-)

macheath said...

"Build it and they will come..."

The Trussell Trust, BTW, are the chaps who launched an Essex foodbank with a champagne reception for the Great and Good, along with a finger buffet 'because many people will be coming straight from work and won't have eaten'.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Indeed. Shame Cameron's lot are not brave enough to reply with something so tailored for the occasion. ;)

Dick_Puddlecote said...

That's priceless! :)

But it proves the point, IMO. They've done wonders with publicity, this should be a celebration of their success instead of a political bunfight.

It's an example of how people can do things far better than politicos.

SadButMadLad said...

Foodbanks are needed because the state is useless. Most users are those who are waiting for the state to pay them. So they are working for the reasons that are against lefty principles! Foodbanks prove the state doesn't work.

However, the Trussell Trust are disingenuous when they crow about their success. If you provide something free and make it dead easy to get referred to a foodbank with everyone from a nurse to the CAB to your local taxi driver able to give out forms then don't be surprised if lots of people use it.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Indeed. Alf Stone has provided a useful link which proves your point. It's funny that a libertarian idea of community organising to help the less well off without state help has been proven highly successful, yet the left are trying to hijack it for political ends.

JonathanBagley said...

Food banks are a bit like internet dating. First the shame, followed by slow uptake to a critical mass. Then the stigma falls away.

Michael J. McFadden said...

Well analyzed Dick!

There's another factor as well, relating to..... guess what... smoking! LOL!

One of the "unintended side effects" of criminal levels of tobacco taxation I wrote about in Brains was that smokers, feeling they were being robbed by their government in cigarette taxes, would then be more likely than they otherwise would have been to look for ways to get that money back. People who might normally have said, "Well, those food banks are intended for people needier than I am so I don't really feel right going down there and picking up a block of cheese." will now say, "I had to give the government XXX for a carton of smokes this week, so that block of cheese will help make up for that!"

The same deal holds for anything to do with taxation: I believe MOST people feel that a certain level of taxation is fair for the services they see the government is giving them. BUT... if you make a segment of the population feel they are being unfairly targeted, feel that their money is being "taken" from them unjustly, then that segment will begin actively seeking ways to get it back.

The problem is that once that barrier has been crossed it's difficult to get people to return to the pre-existing state: even if tobacco taxes were cut in half tomorrow, I'd guess that a lot of the UK folks who have gone on the dole in one sense or another out of resentment over their taxation will end up simply remaining there: they've already made the "moral leap" and become accustomed to being fed at the public trough as part of their "rights."

Simply another way the Antismokers have contributed significantly toward the destruction of our society.