This is just the beginning.

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.

HF tweet

 

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.

UKhousingfast analytics cropped

Huge thanks to Asif Choudry for providing the stats

 

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:

EC 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.

Donations

Donations made by my awesome Bromford colleagues

 

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.

 

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Our simple choice, one big problem

Hungry child

Photo credit: jrmiller482

“C’mon Jess, you’re going to be late for school if you don’t have your breakfast soon! What’s it going to be today? We’ve got:

Hoops

Rice Crispies

Weetabix

Porridge

Toast.”

This is a typical weekday morning for us in the Johnson household. Stress levels can go through the roof trying to get our little one ready for the day ahead, but when I step back and really think about it, it’s not that big a deal, is it?!

If Jess decides she really doesn’t want her breakfast that day she’ll be OK. There’ll be some warm buttered toast waiting for her when she gets into class, then there’s school dinners to look forward to, and not forgetting the selection of scrummy puddings on offer; jelly and ice-cream, cake and custard, fresh fruit and pancakes, chocolate crispy cake – the list goes on!

For too many people, they will not have this luxury or choice.

The Trussell Trust, the UK’s largest food bank, says it handed out 1.2 million food packs in 2016/17. Compare that to the 41,000 food packs in 2009/10, that’s a 2927% increase!

Some people will use services like this more than once. It’s said that the average person will use a food bank twice a year, this means around 590,000 different people relied on the services of the Trussell Trust in 2016/17.

These figures are heart-breaking.

So, on 14 June 2017 I’ll be joining an army of UK Housing professionals like Amy Nettleton and Neil Goodrich (who convinced me to sign up), to take part in #UKHousingFast. We’ll be giving up our meals, putting together food packs and raising funds, all in support of, and to raise awareness for, the amazing Trussell Trust.

Plate pledge

My #PlatePledge for #UKHousingFast 2017

If you’d like to know more, or fancy getting involved yourself, visit the #UKHousingFast blog.

Thank you.