Food banks are filling in the political gaps

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Along with many other businesses, schools and organisations across Derry city, the Journal took part in the Rotary Food Bank’s Christmas food drive last month.

It was a simple idea that worked extremely well, with over one ton of food donated between just 15 of the organisations taking part. That’s a lot of food.

But while I fully support the food bank and donated items they needed, it rankles with me that such a need exists because if our economy was working the way it should be, then many of the recipients of the food parcels would be self-sufficient.

It’s indicative of our society today that instead of Derry fighting its way out of poverty, hundreds of families are instead relying on food donations to feed themselves.

Food banks are nothing new. They’ve been in operation in England, Scotland and Wales for quite a few years already - and their existence has always been something that our politicians cannot talk their way out of.

Now that they have landed on our doorstep it is a huge reality check. I think it has always been very clear that Derry is not standing on its own two feet. Job creation is slow, our young people are leaving in their droves to find work abroad and budget cuts are daily announcements.

But to see people relying on a charity for food is totally unacceptable.

Be in no doubt, food banks are basically filling in the cracks that our elected representatives have created.

While they sit up at Stormont arguing over the ubiquitous ‘Flags, parades and the past’ the normal person on the street really only cares about getting a job, feeding their children and a decent future.

There’s two incomes coming into my home at the minute and for that I am thankful - but unlike the older generations my job is not ‘for life’.

The pension age is also rising and there’s no guarantee that the state pension we receive will be adequate to ‘keep’ us in our old age.

So, whether I like it or not, there’s no guarantee that I may not need a food bank donation in years to come myself. That’s the reality because these days there is no cushion.

Instead it feels as though nothing is certain and there’s little positive to outweigh the negative.

That’s no way to live.

Claire Allan is away