It came as a shock to read recently that the foodbank in Eastbourne is now the busiest in the UK.
Nine years ago, I visited this foodbank to do an article for the local and church press. It had only been running for a short time at that point.
Among those who had hit hard times was a former soldier called Dave, who picked up his three bags of food supplies.
Dave was unemployed and had lost his partner.
He was one of 10,800 people who had visited the foodbank, since it opened two years previously.
The shock came over a more recent report on the Eastbourne foodbank giving out 17,144 food parcels per 100,000 people in the last year.
The article back in 2013 caused something of a stir in the town, citing also that 4,500 children go hungry in the town each night – how many today?
Foodbanks are one of the growth areas of the British economy.
There are now 2,200 foodbanks in the UK. The number attending has gone from 25,000 in 2008/9 to more than 2.5 million.
And things are set to get worse, with a cost of living crisis forcing more people to go hungry.
The foodbank movement has been a fantastic response to so much human suffering.
The great work of the Trussell Trust and others in getting the whole network going.
The efforts of so many volunteers, selflessly giving of time and money every week.
The disgrace is that in such a rich country, as this one, that increasing numbers of people have become dependent on the foodbanks to survive.
Tory politicians are happy to have their pictures taken at the local foodbank. They just don’t see the injustice of millions going to foodbanks in a country with more than 300 billionaires.
It has been good to see leading Labour politicians making the injustice arguments.
It is also good to see foodbanks themselves becoming more voluble in highlighting the growing suffering.
In Eastbourne, the local council recently passed an emergency cost of living motion, highlighting how bad things are getting.
The voices against the growing poverty of so many needs to grow ever louder. Only then will things really begin to change, with a more equitable distribution of resources and the reduction in the flow of people to foodbanks.
- Paul Donovan is a Redbridge Labour councillor for Wanstead village and blogger. See paulfdonovan.blogspot.com