I woke up at my usual time this morning, a little after 6:30am, and my daily routine picked up where I last left it on Tuesday. I poured myself a steaming mug of coffee, opened a sachet of wet food for the cat and settled down in front of the TV whilst scrolling through my tweets. But today didn’t feel quite the same as it usually does.
I felt guilty.
You see, on Wednesday 14 June my routine took a slight deviation. I, like many others, took part in #ukhousingfast. We forfeited our meals for the day and made a pledge to donate money, raise awareness and gather items for our local food banks, a service which so many families (too many), rely upon.
We stood united. An army of housing people posting messages of support and sentiment throughout the day.
We achieved some amazing things that day; our tweets reached over 178,000 people; we smashed our £1000 fundraising total, and; hundreds of items made their way to local food banks, specifically those run by the amazing Trussell Trust.
But my guilt remained. It was far too easy for me to get up at 4am and scoff some porridge and banana to help get me through the day. Far too easy to call at my local chippy to feast when the clock struck 10pm and the sun settled down for the day. To go to bed that evening, get a good night’s sleep then wake up the next day smoothly easing myself back into my normal routine just felt wrong.
What I’d experienced for one day is sadly the norm for so many, day in, day out. Food poverty doesn’t just affect those who find themselves homeless, some of them are fortunate enough to have a roof over their heads, they may even have work to go to, but they come home, they’ve paid their bills and they then search the cupboards with nothing but a void space staring back at them. These people are our customers, our tenants, our neighbours, our friends, our family.
I spent 14 June trying not to think about food. 1000s of people in the UK cannot think of nothing else but food.
Food banks are an essential service which is relied upon too often and this has got to stop. Evie Copland nailed it with this tweet:
My guilt is slowly easing knowing the good work we have all done; seeing the coming together of people who have shown endless generosity and kindness for others in need has been wonderful.
We have made a difference, so thank you, each and every one of you, but don’t be fooled into thinking this is the end.
Let’s make a stand, let’s make a change, for this is just the begninning.