Many families are going hungry this Christmas. Volunteers at our local foodbanks have been busy distributing supplies donated over the holiday. There is still time to offer the gift of food for New Year at South Leith Parish Church Halls in Henderson Street tomorrow (Friday 27th December) between 3 and 5 pm.
What you are about to read could come from Charles Dickens Christmas Carol, “a ghostly little book” written in 1843. Sadly it is very much a tale for today.
South Leith Parish Church is the central point for the North East Edinburgh foodbank – one of many recent Trussell Trust community ventures in Scotland – which is supported by four parish churches in Leith and run by local volunteers. Families in need of help are referred by local care agencies and charities.
The Trussell Trust, a ‘non-judgemental and inclusive’ national charity, has recorded a dramatic growth in the number of people being referred for help and newly opened foodbanks are working hard to keep up with the demand.
Across the UK around 60,000 people have been fed by Trussell Trust foodbanks over Christmas, compared with 20,000 in 2012. A third of them are children. Delays to benefits payments, benefits sanctions, the bedroom tax and higher cost of energy bills are among reasons for referrals recorded by the trust. While the Coalition Government denies welfare changes have increased food poverty, yesterday the Department of Work and Pensions acknowledged that 32,000 people have been affected by delays to benefit payments over the Christmas period.
On Christmas Eve, members of Leith Open Space called in to South Leith Parish Church Halls and found volunteers standing by to receive gifts. Although the normally busy community centre is closed for the Christmas holiday, they will be there again tomorrow to receive food parcels for distribution in time for New Year. When ‘normal life’ resumes in the New Year, the Church Halls will be open every day.
If you would like to make a donation, the Trussell Trust suggests a range of dried and tinned foods – from pasta to puddings – plus fruit juice, tea, coffee and UHT or powdered milk.
We hope to call again to find out much more about the work of the trust and the teams of volunteers who freely give their time to help families and local people in need. You can find out more about the work of the trust here: Edinburgh Foodbank.
“Have they no refuge or resource?” cried Scrooge?
” Are there no prisons?” said the Spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words, “Are there no workhouses?”