So you don’t like Foodbanks? Fine, look away.

20140422-181214.jpg Since the Mail on Sunday’s supposed ‘sting’ on foodbanks I have read, seen and heard a fair amount of criticism aimed at foodbanks, the people who run them, charities in general and of course the people who use them.

As someone who runs a charity to help disadvantage families I have one message for those who are critical: get involved or get out. There is nothing constructive about the criticism I have read. Charities, like businesses, are constantly trying to improve the service they offer. Feedback is essential for this, however, generalised and misinformed abuse is not. If you don’t like what charities like this do then ignore them. Ignore us and ignore the families we support. Bracket them, as you will, as ‘benefit cheats’ and scroungers. People who want something for nothing. Lay-abouts. Thieves. You will never know the truth because you don’t want to. I wonder if admitting that there are people in society who need help with food and clothing, people who are similar to you (you know: human) would make you feel guilty? Is that why you attack? Fear of guilt? Is this why the foodbank critics and the people-haters at the Mail on Sunday label all users of such services in this way?

Here is the truth:

There is nothing pleasurable or joyful about getting help from a charity – going to a foodbank or coming to a charity like First Days for support is not getting something for nothing. Sure, you might walk away with something essential for your child or three days worth of food but it is not pleasurable. How can it be? There is no pleasure in being in a situation where you can’t fulfil your primal instinct of caring for your family. It is not a joy to be working hard, as so many of our clients are, trying your best to raise your family and still not being able to provide for them. I can guarantee, each and every person who has ever been to a foodbank or a charity for emergency help does not want to be there. But they are. For whatever reason they are. Instead of punishing them, degrading them or criticising them (not to mention comparing a reporter who fraudulently obtains food to them) try and understand why they are there. If you are not satisfied with their answer use the handy ‘5 Whys’ tool. Ask why again and again and again. You will find, after really trying to understand why people – human people just like you – are in a situation of needing emergency food or supplies that their reasons are at best unfortunate and at worst terribly sad. Take a walk in their shoes and I expect you’ll want yours back pretty quickly; getting ‘something for nothing’ has never felt so desperate. If after pondering this you still believe that charities like this shouldn’t exist and that people, other humans, do not deserve help at their hour of need then please just look away. Turn your head back towards your own life and ignore what we are doing. There are enough kind hearted people who can see that society hasn’t provided enough, or has taken away too much, and they are working hard to help their fellow man. If you don’t want to help, to acknowledge or to contribute you don’t have to – just please, do not stand on the sideline shouting at those who do.

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18 Responses to So you don’t like Foodbanks? Fine, look away.

  1. willockem says:

    Great, great post. When I donate, I try to think of things that parents, like me, NEED for their children. The things they want to provide for them. The work you and similar charities do is, sadly, essential. I feel like it’s the least I can do as a human.

  2. fielsted says:

    Quite right! If nothing else, looking away is so much healthier psychologically than assuming that everyone who accesses support is actually just waiting surreptitiously in the shadows to jump out and land a great big ‘SUCKER’ sign on your back. That’s really not what is going on here.
    Maybe people are too scared to allow themselves to feel compassion?
    Thanks for putting it all down on paper (kind of ) so effectively.

  3. Pingback: So you don’t like Foodbanks? Fine, look away.

  4. Brilliant post and well summed out. There is NOTHING pleasurable about NEEDING to ask for help to fill your child’s tummy, or to put shoes on their feet.

  5. Well said. The Daily Fail campaign was shocking. We support our local foodbank and it’s needed xx

  6. Glad you’ve posted this!!! you’ve summed it all up perfectly, its a shame it needs to be stated though x

  7. I support our local food bank and can’t believe that anyone would see something pleasurable in needing to use it – thank you for writing this post #PoCoLo

  8. Clare Scott says:

    As with others who have posted, I support my local foodbank and I am also aware of the recent damaging media coverage. Thank you for your passionate and well-written response. #PoCoLo

  9. Donna says:

    It’s sad that The Daily Fail tried to make foodbanks sound like free handouts to anyone that wanted them. I can’t imagine ever being in the position to need to go to a food bank, how low you would feel – It would be most people’s last resort. I am glad that there are things like food banks around for people that really need them – And me if I ever find myself in that position! x

  10. jennp6 says:

    Well said. The disadvantaged need more champions like you. #PoCoLo

  11. Kim Carberry says:

    Fantastic post! Very well said x

  12. YOu have balls for writing this. I agree that people who are just saying bad things should stop bashing people who are trying to help. People needs it and the last things that people in need wants to hear are blames, bad words. Kudos. #pocolo

  13. @katgrant30 says:

    Great post! You do amazing work. It is sad that so many people fall through the many cracks in our society, that charities need to provide… But maybe it will always be this way. I am so grateful for all the many wonderful charities out there that I know might help me or others in crisis.

  14. What a fabulous post, so well said! It is not easy asking for help at the best of times because of the guilt felt – I know, because I have been there. It is so wonderful to see such a pro-charity post. Thank you for linking to PoCoLo Emma 🙂 xx

  15. stephdouglas2014 says:

    Great post – It’s been a great story to watch in that from a stupid article, awareness has been raised and the whole concept of food banks has been given attention. Thankfully, the majority see the benefit of them, and pieces like this help explain why we should. #PoCoLo

  16. I had no idea the Daily mail had this campaign – good thing or i’d have gone ballistic (or written a blog post, which you have brilliantly done for me!). Aaagh. They have no idea do they? We have a food bank at our church (called FEED) which has been running 5 years now, more actually, and its amazing the stories of how people’s lives have been blessed and turned around through it (we provide a cafe space for people to have coffee and snacks and a listening ear which is needed more than anything). No one locally can say a bad thing about it. Keep up the great work with your charity. #pocolo

    • bornin2011 says:

      Thank you – that foodbank your church runs sounds fantastic. I really love the idea of the cafe too, as you say – that is often what people are in need of.

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