Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Prize Winners v. Food Banks

I have three blog ideas tumbling round my brain at the moment. The more I think about which one to choose, the more I find that the issues are linked and so I shall discuss them all and I wonder if you too will be ashamed of our society when you've had time to think about the disparity.

The Reith Lecture

Yesterday morning I listened to Grayson Perry's Reith Lecture on BBC Radio 4. If you missed it you can read the transcript here, although it loses something by not hearing the man himself with his fascinatingly quirky personality. It was a great example of how someone can 'cock a snoot' at the establishment so much more effectively from within but that isn't the issue I'm picking up on here. It's the fact that Perry's pottery once sold for whatever he could get for it. Now that he's a famous Turner Prize winner his works command vast sums of money.

The Booker Prize

Moving on to last night and the announcement of this year's Booker Prize winner, Eleanor Catton. The youngest ever winner at the age of 28, she was awarded a cheque for £50,000 for her book The Luminaries. I congratulate her but I also question the value and our use of money in today's society because my third issue is...

UK Food Banks

A headline in today's Independent Newspaper states, "Britain's Use of Food Banks Triples". Between April and September of this year the Trussell Trust distributed food to 355,985 people, including nearly 120,000 children. Until last year I knew nothing about Food Banks and was surprised to learn that a friend volunteers at her local Food Bank. She explained that people are given three days' worth of food. These are not society's drop-outs but people who are desperate to feed their families. Many of those who she helped were having money problems through no fault of their own. One had to wait for a payment cheque which had taken longer than usual to arrive. Another explained that his allowances had been changed which meant there was a gap in payments and, although the money would be back-dated, he had no savings to draw on.

The article in The Independent goes on to say that the Red Cross "announced it planned to distribute food aid to the needy in Britain this winter for the first time since the Second World War." What kind of society awards five and six figure sums to people who excel in the arts while vast numbers of people are struggling to feed themselves and their families?

How can we justify giving, with one hand, vast sums to successful individuals in the Arts world and, with the other hand, food parcels containing three days' worth of food to hungry families?

17 comments:

  1. There's just no answer to it Ros.I often wonder why councils spend money on works of art or even statues.We have one not far from us it's an area of poverty and child neglet and the statue is one of two people holding a chile in their arms,it's modern art so you have to use your imagination.I just think we should sort people out before we spend money on things to look at.
    I have a young friend who is a single parent,she works but gets some housing benifit,the last two months it has not been paid and she has had to pay full rent. Now her child is unwell and she has to take days off from work which are unpaid, how is she meant to cope with paying extra money and losing days of money from work to look after her sick child and there are thousands of young women facing the same every week.
    My daughter is a social worker with children and families and she tells me there is real poverty out there and children are suffering. Good post Ros.

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    1. Sorry about my spelling I have a 2 yr old pulling at me.

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    2. I agree entirely. What is the point of looking at expensive art work when they've not enough to eat?

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  2. Oddly, it doesn't make me as angry to hear about big payments to the arts as it does to footballers (and other sportsmen and women.) Somehow I can't reconcile kicking a ball around a field for 90 minutes every week with the vast sums these people earn. But I'd be disappointed if we stopped trying to improve the environment that people live in. I think art is even more important in run-down areas than in the posh ones.

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    1. I do agree about the money that footballers get. The same applies to any people who earn money out of proportion with what they achieve, for example certain high-profile TV presenters. But I have to say that I don't think it's necessary to commission expensive pieces of artwork to improve areas. There are cheaper ways, especially is the people living in those areas are hungry.

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    2. I agree Ros,if I was down to my last few pounds and struggling to feed my children a new piece of art wouldn't cheer me up,sorry not everyone is that bothered by artwork, I appreciate flowers and trees more and they're free.

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  3. I know what you mean, Rosalind. How can ... in my country ... the politicians can still collect paychecks while a select few can't during a government shut-down? The elite of this world need a reality check. They seem to forget about what happened to Marie Antoinette.

    Hugs and chocolate,
    Shelly

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    1. So sorry to hear about what is happening in the US right now. I only hope the madness is brought to an end soon.

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  4. food parcels to hungry families with only three days of food is simply terrible.
    over here with the Govt shut-down, many with very little are affected (like Govt programs for the needy) while Congress and the Senate collects its pay during the shut-down) the shame of it all.

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    1. It strikes me that it's the poor who suffer from political decisions the world over.

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  5. I heard a representative of the Government claim that the increase in the numbers using food banks is due only to the growth of the food bank organisation. So if there were less banks, less people would use them ... what are they meant to do, then? He's implying that people are only starving because there is an organisation there to help them - (bonkers!)

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  6. Regarding the food banks, I feel it should be the supermarkets who donate a percentage of what we spend, never mind the customers who should purchase some extra tins to put into a box for distributions to the less fortunate.

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    1. As far as I'm aware, supermarkets do donate food, well some do. I've been told that Waitrose donate generously.

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  7. Interesting post, but I don't think these issues can be tied together neatly. The arts serve a purpose, sports serve a purpose, and basic living needs (i.e. food,etc) is in another group. How to feed/clothe/shelter everyone on the planet has been a question since day 1. And often it's a question of programs offered. It's crazy that my 9 year old stepgrandchild has an Apple iphone, but her mother also has her qualified for the free food program at school. I don't question that there are folks in true dire need, and yes we need to help our fellow man. I'm going in a circle as to how it can be "fixed". But I always appreciate your blog posts that make us aware and think.

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  8. Apparently the Red Cross are giving food parcels here in the UK for the first time in their 100 year whatever history. It's disgraceful...the more so when you see the opulence and luxury some people live in and the greed and wanton extravagance of others. I have been disgusted by Osborne and Bozza cosying up to the Chinese solely to persuade them to come over and spend money on luxury goods (the profits of which go straight into the owners' offshore banks). No mention of sweatshop slavery. No mention of th silencing of dissidents. It somehow says all you need to know about the mindset of those at the top (!!) of this skewed country.

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  9. Hi Ros .. great thoughts you've raised here for us to think about .. I must contribute to the food bank down here - I've gone round and forgotten .. and find out more about them and what they need. There are too many scroungers too ... I really do struggle with the fact there are poor people here in the UK - I know there are ... desperate times.

    Footballer's wages are quite ridiculous ... especially when David Weir, the 4 gold medallist ParaOlympian - apparently get a toilet down stairs in his house ... without 'kicking' the system .. he's on benefits .. something is not right ... but I so admire him.

    Life is incongruous .. as Joanne mentions above - we don't need half the things we have or more probably give our kids ..

    Well I think I'd better stop now ... otherwise I'll upset myself and us all .... great combination of ideas .. cheers Hilary

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