Monday, 22 December 2014

Faith, Hope and Gluttony

Every Christmas time I scour the TV Times to make sure that my favourite Christmas story will be showing, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. I've watched it in one form or another almost every year since I was a teenager. I could mouth some versions, but that doesn't spoil the enjoyment for me. I love the way that Dickens put his message across, which I interpret to be the same message as is in the title of this blog post.

'...Faith, Hope and Gluttony, that'll be Christmas...', lyrics from a Christmas song sung by Thea Gilmore. There are a lot of Christmas songs being played right now. Mostly they talk about happiness and family togetherness which is what we've been trained to expect at Christmas, trained by the media and advertising but...

Last week The Independent stated that 13 million people in the UK are living in a state of poverty. That is brain-stunningly shocking.

13 million people! In the UK! 

Shelter predicts that 93,000 children will be homeless this Christmas and the Trussell Trust, who are responsible for the food banks throughout the UK, talk about there being a 'real, stark two-nations Britain'.

When food banks were recently debated in parliament, Maria Eagle MP stated that the number of people using food banks had increased from 41,000 in 2009/10 to 913,000 in 2013/14. She went on to say that 'over the last four years prices have risen faster than wages ... and failings in the operation of the social security system continue to be the main triggers for food bank use...'

I am not an economist and so can't even begin to work out how the problem of rising prices versus wages could be solved but it doesn't take an economist to see that something could and should be done about failings in the operation of the social security system. In 2013 I blogged about food banks. I talked about the experiences of my friend who is a volunteer in her local food bank. She said,
"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 are 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."
I wonder if those people who are responsible for issuing allowance payments have any idea what it feels like to have no money at all, no savings, no family who can lend, no tins in the larder to dip into, nothing? And I wonder how those people responsible for making these late payments are able to enjoy their heavily-laden Christmas dinner table?

Which brings me back to my favourite Christmas story and the realisation that we have, as a caring community, changed very little since Victorian times. It is disappointing. There must be something we can do to make a difference but I really don't know what.

15 comments:

  1. It's not solely a UK problem either. Sadly, our world seems to be encouraging a wider and wider gap between the haves and the have nots. At our school, we did a variety of awareness campaigns and fundraisers not only to help out others, but to make the kids aware that doing that helping is a vital part of being human.

    Enjoy a wonderful Christmas!

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    1. Hi Jemi, I love the sound of what you're doing in your school. It would be good to think that the next generation could get things sorted where we've failed.

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  2. you are so right, Rosalind. It is hard to fathom so many people without a decent meal each day. And, indeed - how to fix the problem? I truly don't know. It is sad

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  3. It's criminal that there are those (not wishing to single out the bankers, but you know who I mean) who will throw away food this Christmas when there are so many who are hungry - in a country as rich as ours.

    What can we do - keep asking questions, of our politicians and economists. Challenge those who suggest that the reason so many people use food banks is because they're there. And then, when you put your tin of soup or whatever in the Tressell Trust trolley at the supermarket, add a treat - some families won't even have chocolate this Christmas.

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    1. Thanks Jo for those good, practical suggestions. I've never seen a Tressell Trust trolley at a supermarket. I may have not noticed them but if they're not there then I think it might be time to start nagging local supermarkets - a project for my new year lull in writing!!

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  4. Hi Ros .. yes we champion the food banks ... Tina and MJ Joachim did it last year and MJ kept it going this year ... I know we generated a few reminders. I do what I can ... but I do feel for souls so much ... and then there's all the overseas refugees, slaves ... people who are suffering because of war or some form of fanaticism ... we just need to respect humanity, and be accountable to those around us ... our family, but our neighbourhood too .. and all things that are not ours ...

    I shall get on one or other hobby horse .. for now .. thanks for reminding us again ... have a peaceful season - Hilary

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  5. You are right about things not changing much since Victorian times, Ros. These numbers are appalling. I too noticed the increase in poverty last time I was in the UK. Terrible policies from a government entrenched in its own elitest ideals.

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    1. How sad that you too have noticed the increase in poverty, Val.

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  6. As it was recently the winter solstice,I always think of all the disparate groups that celebrate at this time of year.Some get so "wrapped" up in the commercial hype(forgetting the true reasons to celebrate) You are correct in putting some of the blame where you say-also I blame the media and retailers etc for the "hype"As regards charity:due to pressure from myself and 2 friends my nearest superstore now has regular collections for The Trussel Trust and a community champion.This person can be approached to help local groups.Personally I give 5% to each of 2 charities of my yearly income.If we all did this locally and world wide poverty would be diminished.Thank you for the blog-it made me think a lot. Petra.

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    1. I'm impressed, Petra. As I said to Jo, above, I don't recall seeing any such trolleys in our local supermarkets and, to be honest, I didn't realise they did that. I will query this with our locals asap.

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  7. It is the same sad story over here, in the richest country of the world, where some are so rich, you wonder why they are so anxious to protect and can't give in a little. Instead they want to reduce government programs even more. Charities, no matter how well-meaning, can only make a small dent in this. On that sad note, I wish you the best for this holiday season.

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    1. That is sad, Inger. So many countries suffering the same problem. As I said on your blog, let's all hope for a happy and healthy new year x

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  8. I think we are worse - In Victorian times there were many philanthropists who regarded it as their religious duty to care for the poor. They read in the Bible that God valued poor people, and would punish the rich. Now, we are taught that poor people are valueless and the rich will inherit the earth. So dies compassion and so we all ive the ''poorer''

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