Comments made by former Tory MP Edwina Currie that foodbanks are used by people who squander their money on dogfood and tattoos have been slammed by the community organisation behind a local foodbank project.
Louise Boyce of Strabane Community Project which has been operating a foodbank in the town since last summer said the former MP’s comments showed “how removed she is from the real world and the issues that affect working class people to try and survive in these economically challenging times”.
Ms Currie hit at out foodbanks last week saying: “For the life of me I can’t see how giving someone a tin of soup when they are suffering from a mental illness or if they’ve got debt problems is going to contribute in any long-term way to solving their problems.”
She added: ““I get very, very troubled at the number of people who are using food banks who think that it is fine to pay to feed their dog, their dog is in good nick and beautiful but they never learn to cook, they never learn to manage and the moment they have got a bit of spare cash they are off getting another tattoo.”
Ms Boyce urged people to take little notice of the comments saying: “She simply does not have a grasp of on the ground dilemmas that are faced daily by those whose decision may have to be to pay their mortgage/rent and not eat, to heat or to eat or unexpected bills.
“Strabane Community Project have identified that people are in need and are taking a proactive approach to deal with issues that affect our local communities and we will always endeavour to support individuals to empower them to make an informed decision that will have a positive impact on their lives and lifestyle.”
The Strabane Area FoodBank reported a surge in demand on its services over the Christmas period and into the new year. Demand for help from the project, which is supported by the Trussel Trust, rose 100% in December with 221 requiring assistance over the festive period.
“We supported people in a vast geographical coverage such as Castlederg, Strabane Neighbourhood Renewal Area, and as far as Derry.
“At the foodbank we have a skilled, trained team who are there to ensure that an individual feels that they are treated with respect and their dignity can remain intact whilst looking for short term support of a food parcel.
“The team are also skilled in providing a listening ear, emotional support and also signposting to relevant agencies for those who require address. There is also space to pray if an individual decides to do so.”