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NEWS FROM CELTIC LEAGUE
“Can you give food to the food bank this Christmas?” Cameron asked
A six year old girl from Camborne has prompted her father to write again to the Prime Minister of the UK again about the growing number of people using food banks in her community.
Olwen asked her father to write a letter to Prime Minister Cameron in 2011 asking what could be done to help people in her community who could not afford to buy food. However, since 2011 the number of people who use the food bank in Olwen’s community has grown substantially, leading Olwen to ask again ‘what can be done?’ This time though the only question Olwen thought of asking Prime Minister David Cameron, after not even receiving an acknowledgment from him in 2011, was “Can you give some food to the food bank please?”
Olwen is a ‘family member’ of the Kernow Branch of the Celtic League and the full text of the letter can be found below.
22 December 2013
Dear Prime Minister David Cameron
Dependency on Food Banks
In 2011 my four year old daughter asked me to try to do something about people in our community who could not afford to eat and were forced to use a food bank, including a pregnant woman we read about in the local newspaper.
At the time of writing my wife had just given birth with our second child and so my daughter was aware of the need of pregnant women to eat well for the care of themselves and their baby. After talking to my daughter about the fact that some people in our community do not have the money to even buy food, but feeling frustrated by my explanation about why that was the case, I thought that together we could write a letter to the Prime Minister to ask what he was prepared to do to help those who could not even afford to buy food.
We did not receive a response (or even an acknowledgment actually) from your Office in 2011, but the food poverty issue has stubbornly remained within our community and has actually grown worse. Now, whenever I go out with my daughter in the community, we are regularly confronted with food bank collection points in places as diverse as Barclays Bank and the local college. Initially, two years ago, my daughter wanted to donate food at each collection point we came across, but now seems to have become a little desensitised to the issue, because I suppose the need is now so prevalent and evident in our every day lives and even includes some people who we know having to use the local food bank. It seems that the reliance on the food bank in our community is becoming a part of our community’s everyday life.
My daughter spoke to me again about the food bank issue last week after hearing about the increasing numbers using them on the radio. The matter was being discussed on the radio, because so many MP’s had refused to vote for a motion calling for an investigation into why so many people were dependent on food banks (including all the Cornish Conservative and Liberal Democrat MP’s). The manager of the Camborne food bank, who was being interviewed on the radio, explained that in a two hour period last week 1900 meals were given out (a figure that amounts to over 9% of the population of our town). The radio presenter said that in the same area over 50% of children were living below the poverty line.
I had to explain to my daughter that this was a lot of people unable to buy food and that it was equivalent to over 9 families in her school who could not afford to eat. As in 2011 she asked me what we could do to help and reminded her of the letter we wrote to you, which came to nothing. She suggested that I wrote to you again, because she thought that maybe the letter was lost in the post, but I pointed out to her that the government did not seem keen on helping people and gave her the example of the government refusing food aid from other states (European Union) last week who had wanted to help out.
My daughter is half French and she told her maternal grand mother today on the phone about all the people in Cornwall who are hungry. She made her grand mother promise to bring some food for them when she visits for Christmas, because “nobody wants to help them”.
After hearing this conversation, I told my daughter that I wanted to write to the Prime Minister again, in addition to our MP, to update them about the situation in Camborne and to tell them about her worries. I asked my daughter what she thought I should put in the letter and she told me that I should ask him [PM Cameron] to “Can you give some food to the food bank this Christmas please?”
So now that I have communicated with you I plan to make the contents of this letter available to the wider public, because if anything it may succeed in raising further awareness of the issue and to let those people who have become dependent on the food bank know that even a six year old girl from Camborne is willing to do more for her community than the Prime Minister.
Rhisiart Tal-e-bot (on behalf of Olwen)
CC George Eustice MP, Camborne, Hayle and Redruth
Meanwhile, hearing of this situation, the Convenor of the Cornwall Branch of the Celtic League wrote the following letter to George Eustice MP:
Dear George Eustice
Rejection of Food Bank Motion
I am writing to ask you why you voted against the motion to investigate people’s dependency on food banks on Wednesday 18th December in a House of Commons debate on the matter.
I am aware that the motion was moved by the Labour Party and that you may have voted against the motion for this reason alone, but it should be remembered that it was inspired by a petition that had attracted over 150 000 signatures, some of whom I am sure were Conservative Party voters. It should also be remembered that in the Camborne food bank in your constituency alone this week 1900 meals were given out to people over a mere two hour period, which amounts to over 9% of the entire population of the town. In addition over 50% of children in the same area live below the poverty line.
I am sure that I am not alone among your constituents in thinking that in such dire circumstances as this, food poverty should not be made into a political issue to be laughed and jeered at, as was the case when MP’s talked about their concerns during the House of Commons debate.
It beggars belief that you and your other fellow Cornish MP’s voted against the motion to investigate the use of food banks by your constituents. As an MP from the actual area that he represents, I am surprised that you are not doing more about this issue yourself. It comes as a further surprise to hear that the UK government rejected $36 million in EU food aid last week to feed the poor of these islands. The rationale behind the UK government’s rejection of the EU aid was that food would be better administered by Britain itself. However, it seems that the UK government is relying on the goodwill of local residents to provide sustenance to those in the community who cannot afford to eat.
The poverty among your constituents is shocking and perhaps you could explain in a clear way why you are failing to provide more help to those who need it. It is clear that more needs to be done and that ordinary people giving food is only a temporary measure to alleviate the problem. What needs to be assessed is why such a growing number of people are increasingly dependent on the use of food banks in your area and for the problem to be tackled at root.
I hope you can provide a full explanation of your reasoning.
Kernow Branch Celtic League
A local journalist has also stepped in and recorded the following interview with the Co-ordinator of the Camborne, Pool and Redruth foodbank which can be heard here:
Cameron Urged to Tackle Cornish Poverty:
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