We hear over and over how caring, responsible parents might not eat or have one small meal a day so they can provide one or two for their kids, if they can afford to do so, writes Helen Martin.
WITH so many charities raising money for starving children across the world, here in the UK we’d be embarrassed to find ourselves featuring as a country in need of overseas support.
That would be ridiculous, wouldn’t it? After all, we spend over £14 billion on foreign aid every year.
Yet almost every day there’s a national story about Britain’s hungry children living in poverty.
Recently, Human Rights Watch (an international, non-government organisation based in New York) issued a report saying the UK government was in breach of its duty to ensure food access, and underlined the growing number of children in hunger. They put this down to “cruel and harmful policies”.
Hungry children somehow feel more distressing to folk than hungry adults. Perhaps that’s why child poverty makes better headlines. Actually 14 million live in poverty – one in five of our population. Other than over four million poor kids, there are eight million adults of working age and two million pensioners.
Of course, children who are growing and developing need to be well fed to reach a healthy life. It wouldn’t surprise me to accept that some of our well-fed, affluent population would be inclined to believe hunger in the UK might be down to parental neglect.
That’s certainly not what HRW is saying, nor is it how food banks and parents describe the hellish situation they are in.
Listening to interviews with mums, we hear over and over how caring, responsible parents might have one small meal a day (or none) to provide one or two for their kids, if they can afford to do so.
Thousands of jobs are under threat every week and benefits have been drastically cut, but even some who are employed qualify as being “in poverty”. The method of calculation is anyone earning just 60 per cent or less of the average national wage, which in the UK is £25,000. So, £15,000 a year is recognised as not enough to live on. Add up rising mortgage payments, rent, utility bills, council tax, vital transport, clothing, school uniforms, footwear and all other essentials, and that’s obvious.
If someone can’t afford to feed their children adequately, they certainly can’t encourage them to take part in health-boosting activities or sports, most of which also carry some costs – not just in Edinburgh, but anywhere, reduced council services and increased charges don’t help.
Nor – on a budget so low it means tightening the belt round your neck let alone your waist – is it possible for people in that position to pay bills online from their bank rather than diligently saving hard cash. Edinburgh Council has not only announced it won’t accept cash payments, even from impoverished parents and pensioners, but it’s sitting on millions of savings to extend trams! Objectors to the foreign aid the UK pays out often include the dubious donations to corrupt governments who take a fat slice rather than commit it to helping their people.
At Westminster several government members are exceedingly wealthy with millions in off-shore tax havens.
That’s why the HRW doesn’t think we are a poor country, and knows our current government’s policies are “cruel and harmful”. Or perhaps they neither recognise nor understand poverty and hunger.
New food recycling bins are rubbish at keeping out a hungry fox
FOOD recycling is good for the environment… but not for ours.
Our original grey/black bin had a button press release and otherwise remained locked. Then bins were changed and we were issued one with a hoop handle – up was locked, tipped down was open. Simple.
The smelly little bin had to be kept outside, so local foxes flipped the hoop getting easy access to chicken carcasses, bones and anything else. In the morning we faced leftover egg shells, tea bags, tattie peelings etc scattered over the grass, so we put two bricks on the ‘locked’ bin.
It took one week for the vixen and her cubs to work that out and knock the bricks off. We then blocked the brick-laden bin behind the bottle box and the green bin. That worked well… until it came to the night before collection when it had to be out on the street, which became the new venue for the foxes’ dinner party. Do the collectors sweep it up? Nope.
Please council, reinstate the old bins that blocked Basil Brush.
Cat’s got us in a flap over mouse in house
WE installed a cat flap, one of those which recognised our moggy’s micro-chip and kept other felines out. But now we need an improved invention from a talented techno geek.
Our boy’s a champion hunter and likes to share his triumphs. So, he catches outdoor mice, then brings them in to chase and kill in the house. It’s not pleasant. None have escaped him, but what if one does?
We’ve had to lock the flap and let him in and out of the windows to make sure he’s alone. Could anyone invent a flap that still recognises the puss but blocks him if he’s got vermin in his gob?
House of cards
A WELL-KNOWN Tory politician (no names, no pack drill) has been spotted in a petrol garage not far from Holyrood, buying scratch cards! It’s not wrong, unethical or illegal, but it’s a bit “low-grade” -and doesn’t convey much faith in the economy!