If I were a parent, I would not have taken part in this experiment, not even for a week. Thousands of parents don’t have a choice.
One week ago a Conservative councillor from York said that no one is starving in the UK. On the evidence of last week, he is wrong. Not because the income used in our experiment was a starvation rate, but because for those who have to exist on such precarious incomes it does not take much to push them over the edge.
“Lots of people living on the breadline are getting by most of the time, but then some kind of crisis hits,” says Molly Hodson of the Trussell Trust, the charity whose network of 298 food banks has given out more than 209,000 emergency food packages since April.
“Say you’re off work for a week and you end up on statutory sick pay, or your car breaks down and you don’t get to work and lose your job. Then the crisis spirals into a disaster. Even something as simple as cold weather: a lot of people on low incomes are on meters for electricity and gas. Whenever there’s a bout of very cold weather, people are making the decision between heating and eating.”
The above is an extract from a very sad piece from Saturday’s Independent, by Charlie Cooper, highlighting the extent of the plight, and most importantly, the hunger faced by so many millions of people in what should be one of the richest countries in the world. Do read it, and then if you have no tears in your eyes at the end, consider reevaluating your priorities.
This isn’t some attempt at piety from some guy who lives on the other end of your computer-screen; but whilst you’re eating your take-away and watching the latest episode of the X-Factor, as you undoubtedly will do sometime this coming year, do recognise how privileged your position is…or perhaps when you’re reading that article on The Sun’s website (don’t ask me how I found this piece…though I am looking for looking for a cup of disinfectant that I can leave my eyeballs in overnight) that Katie Price is marrying a builder/part-time stripper (which has been categorised as ‘News’) on your iPad whilst sipping your lunchtime latte, have a think about what it actually is that matters.
Then, why don’t you make a contribution or two toward a homeless shelter, a charity for families or elderly in crisis, perhaps? I won’t tell you which ones. Why not, with your guaranteed income for this month, set up a regular payment or two both here and abroad. One tragedy of all this penny-pinching is not just the effect it has on people at home – forcing them into prolonged hunger and political and economic oblivion – but the lack of good a larger public purse could do in the third world.
I’m reminded of a couple of quotes that I read last year, which were attributed to Imam Ali (may God’s blessings descend upon him always), that are very appropriate. Too bad our statesmen today haven’t the integrity to speak this way:
If a person starves it is due to the fact that his share has been taken by another.
I have not seen any excessive bounty which is not associated with a right which has been violated.