By: Anita Boniface
A YouGov survey showed that in the UK alone, 50% of teachers reported that some children came to school on an empty stomach at least three times a week. Understanding the desperate need that some families are struggling with, food poverty is the focus of the second week of the Catholic charity the St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP)'s campaign 'Who Cares?'
Last year, members of the SVP delivered food parcels to hungry families on 27,000 occasions, making a difference to people who would not ordinarily be able to put food on the table. On top of that, SVP members ran food banks, with members organising collections of unperishable items from local parishioners and school pupils.
SVP members often compliment the work of the State, providing time and kindness where government agencies are limited by the pressure of strict targets and funding cuts. One Social Worker, Barbara, wrote to the SVP expressing her gratitude to members for stepping in to help.
"Dear SVP, Just a note to say thank you for responding to my request for a food parcel so quickly. When I arrived at Simon's house and realised he hadn't eaten for three days, I panicked. No other agency I phoned could help--until I rang you.
The food parcel will help Simon until we manage to get his benefits sorted. Thank you for offering to help with his debts; I will be back in touch when this initial crisis is sorted.
As social workers we often have to deal with society's most desperate cases; it's good to know organisations like the SVP exist," said social worker Barbara.
SVP National President Adrian Abel speaks of how the SVP complements the State, providing friendship and an extended family: "We have come to expect the State to play the role that was previously provided by extended family and neighbours. But the State is reducing its support, leaving SVP members with an absolutely essential role to play. They are not constrained by time sheets and give to those they seek to help the time they need, be they isolated, hungry or have needs that go beyond their medical or financial conditions. The SVP is not a branch of Social Services or an NHS Trust, but rather an organisation where those in need become friends in every sense of the word".
If you are interested in personally helping those with needs or donating to the SVP, please telephone 020 7703 3030, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.svp.org.uk for more information.