Yesterday I took part in #ukhousingfast. It’s an initiative which aims to reach out all those who work in UK housing and asks them to fast for the day and make a donation/raise awareness of food poverty. The main charity at the heart of the initiative is the Trussell Trust who govern the majority of the foodbanks in the UK.
I work at a housing association. I am also married to a Muslim man currently fasting for Ramadan so it made complete sense for me to fast. I tend to fast for one day a year to show solidarity to my husband who fasts every year.
Yesterday was the first time I fasted whilst working. I have a lovely team around me who were extremely supportive by not offering me drinks/food etc. I got through it okay because it was one day.
As dusk fell, I was lucky enough to have my husband go out, get some lovely food and bring it back to me. When I ate it, it made me think. There are some people where fasting isn’t an option, an opt in moment. This is real life for a lot of people in the UK and around the world.
I hear a lot about “we should look after our own” when people talk about the aid we provide around the world. Yes, we should look after our own. Yet that should not be at the expense of looking after those who are unable to eat because of the country where they happen to be born. We should be able to look after our own as well as those who cannot look after their own. We are one of the richest countries in the world and the fact we still have children and families living in poverty is shocking and sadly not surprising.
There are days like yesterday that bring it all into focus. I could feel despondent but actually things like the recent election results and the response after the Manchester and London attacks just strengthen my resolve. There are good people and it’s good that people understand and empathise. Empathise and not sympathise with those who are unable to provide for themselves and their families. People who use foodbanks are not those who you see on the tv screens who choose to live on benefits. People who use foodbanks work or are unable to work. It’s actually a minority who tv choose to highlight. They are actually just trying to make their lives a little better and it’s not about them and us. It’s about people. Humanity. Because that’s just what we all are in the end.
So next time you see a homeless person, don’t judge, buy a coffee, fling a smile in their direction. Donate to foodbanks if you can. And hope for a world where homeless and foodbanks are a thing of the past. I believe it can happen, do you?