October was pretty shitty for me. And when I sat myself down to have a good think about why, I realised that what I need most in my life is to feel that I’ve achieved something. Anything, really.
I decided that I needed to start to do something about it. I wrote about it here.
After I wrote that blog post, I started giving to my local Food Bank as well.
My first donation was just a few things I’d bought that I was never going to actually use, but that’s not sustainable – I don’t make a habit of buying things that I’m not going to use.
So I asked if there was anything that they were in particular need of – it made sense to me to donate stuff that people actually needed. They said yes, personal hygiene products. Shower gel, hand wash, toothbrushes, toothpaste, that kind of thing. So last week I went to Aldi and filled a basket with that kind of thing.
This week I bought cleaning products – anti-virus spray, Domestos, washing up liquid, bin bags, scouring pads, cloths. They tend to get more food donated than anything else (I guess the clue is in the name…) but if people need food, they’re likely to need other things as well.
It makes me cross that we need foodbanks at all. If the 6th largest economy in the world can’t manage to look after its most vulnerable citizens, there is something seriously wrong. God knows I pay enough in tax. But it is what it is and we are where we are, and until we have another election and as a society choose not to make the same mistake again, food banks will be with us.
Our local food bank is open on Tuesdays and Fridays. There’s a door round the side for donations – the door is open and you literally just pop your bags inside. There’s no need to meet anyone, social distancing is maintained, all is good.
I always buy a new bag at the supermarket – the food bank can then re-use it when the food is collected. Because having a bag of shopping in a supermarket carrier bag is a small bit of normality that most of us take for granted. Nothing shouts ‘I had to go to the food bank’ louder than an unmarked carrier bag.
Charity begins at home – which is the same as saying fix your own oxygen mask first. Don’t try to help other people until you’ve sorted yourself out. Once you’ve made sure you’re OK yourself though – it’s time to look around.
Will people become dependent on foodbanks in the same way that, apparently, they will become dependent on free school meals in the holidays? I don’t know. And I don’t really care. I know that I’m dependent on having a salary coming in…
After my husband left, and before I got a job and before I was sure that we could continue to run our business together, I was looking at the very real possibility of losing not just my husband but my job and my house as well. I didn’t, in the end – but it was close, and taught me to take nothing for granted. If it could happen to me it could happen to anyone.
The people who run the food bank are always so incredibly grateful. I find it a bit embarrassing, to be honest. I’m not doing it for the gratitude. I’d rather not be doing it at all.
I’d prefer not to live in a country where people are so poor that they need food banks. But I do, and they are.
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