A National Scandal… and Northfield’s Response


201305 - Sainsburys Food DriveToday I am leading a ‘food drive’ for the Northfield Lifeline Food Bank after it was burgled last month. We will be raising awareness and stocking food as the news hits home that half a million people had to rely on food banks in the past year.

A food drive enables shoppers to donate food to food banks, who are supporting local people facing economic hardship. Alongside the Northfield Food Bank charity, local Labour Councillors and Constituency Party Members, I will be collecting donations at Sainsbury’s in Northfield from 10-2pm.

We are facing a national food crisis – it is estimated that there has been 170% increase in people using food banks in the UK over the last year. The reasons for this are multiple. A lack of jobs, low incomes, major changes to taxes and the welfare system by the government, and the rise in sanctions for those on benefits mean that thousands of families and households are now struggling to make ends meet. Spiralling food prices, which have risen by 12% in real terms since 2008, are also driving many into food poverty. 

The UK is the seventh richest country in the world, and yet here in Northfield we are seeing more and more people going hungry. The Life Line Food Bank is an excellent example of community support in a crisis, and the donations we collect at the food drive today are a life line for many. 

But we need to question why a Food Bank is necessary, and why demand for emergency food assistance is rising so quickly.  The hike in food prices we saw last week is yet another example of a Government failing to tackle a crisis of living standards. Food banks are increasingly used by hard working low income families, who are struggling to make wages last until the end of the month.

The Coalition need to wake up to the human impact of their failing economic policies. It is national scandal that there are parents are unable to feed their children in 2013. The growing need for food banks – and food drives such as the one today in Northfield – is truly frightening.

You can find out more about the Lifeline Food Bank here.

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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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You can reach me by email at richard@richardburden.com or use the form on the Contact page to send me a message.