Catch21 - Our Charity ArmCatch21 is a charitable production company set up in 2005 which trains young people to make videos and engage with their communities.Catch Creative - Our Video Production ArmCatch Creative offers a complete video production service, from Conception to Distribution.Catch EngagementCatch Engagement is the new video interaction platform from Catch21 which allows you to run a campaign using both user generated films as well as professionally shot ones which are displayed via Video 'Walls'. Catch Engagement is all about using films to build an online community - welcome to the future of video.

We shoot cutting edge videos and provide a forum to give people a voice.
Engagement. Discussion. Empowerment.


All content featured on our charity site is produced by young volunteers with the support and mentoring of our professional production team.

Economics no image

Published on September 11th, 2012 | by Isabelle Mngadi
Image © [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="566"] The rise in food banks across the UK has been met with staunch criticism © BotMultichillT[/caption]   Food banks currently offer a crucial service in feeding some of the UK’s poorest families, and their number is set to multiply in the coming months. Yet what some optimistically describe as the onset of the Tories’ Big Society, others refer to as the institutionalisation of poverty. Even though food banks are a growing response to on-going problems such as mounting debt and inadequate benefits provision, some call the practice a long-term disaster, which sends the wrong message to the unemployed and impoverished. Nonetheless, the argument that self-sufficiency is better than charity does little to solve the problem since nothing is being done to make the underclass self-sufficient; invoking the potential pitfalls of the future is not enough when thousands are going hungry every day right now. In the last year alone (2011-2), the UK’s 250+ food banks have fed around 130,000 people  - ten per cent of the 13 million Brits who currently live below the poverty line. Food banks are crucial because they help those who are not receiving adequate help elsewhere. For many, they provide a temporary stop-gap when the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) face problems in processing benefits: in the first three months of this year alone, 167,000 people’s Job Seeker’s Allowance was temporarily stopped. In many this can be down to a simple a bureaucratic mishap; Martyne Wilson from Coventry has described turning to her local food bank because once her teenage sister moved in, at the same time as the recent birth of her youngest child, the computer counted it as “too many children living in [her] house”, and all benefits except child benefit were stopped. Even in cases where the problem is not permanent, the reality behind this short-term glitch is that entire families can go without food allowances for weeks, and there is little hope of them getting food elsewhere, since in the vast majority of cases, claiming benefits is a last resort in the first place. But less than half of those who turn to food banks go because of benefit delays; for an increasing number of people, both those who are unemployed and those who are in permanent work, paying back a mountain of debts can eat up all of their money, leaving them none for food. As housing prices, food prices and unemployment all rise, more and more people are being left at the mercy of doorstep and high street lenders, who often use manipulation, guilt and high interest rates to profit from their clients at the expense of their poverty. One of the major advantages of food banks is that they feed people rather than give money (which can be misused), in a similar way to the food stamps and soup kitchens programmes that the United States has seen since the 1960s. However, it is such comparisons that the food banks’ biggest critics have used to disparage their work. Claiming that church- and charity-given food encourages people to stop relying on themselves or strive to be self-sufficient, they claim that food banks justify the lack of government initiatives (with the reasoning being that if people rely less on the government, the government will do less accordingly). But how could community support in times of dire need become the norm, when the government knows that food banks are not meant to provide long-term solutions for individuals? Does poverty have to result in mass illness and death before the government sees it as something which urgently needs to be addressed?  If the government begins to rely on food banks then it is their fault for not dealing with claims process, and initiating programs to help the underclass escape unemployment, debt, lack of education, and every other cause for living in poverty. Richard Seymour has even gone so far as to say that food banks do more harm than good, because when earning an income is the only way to eat, one is encouraged (read obliged) to work. The suggestion here is that promoting such a stiff upper lip helps the workforce, and thus the economy. (Accordingly, Seymour actually goes so far as to suggest that poor families sustaining themselves via food donations make his own middle-class existence precarious.) Whilst he is correct in saying that the desire to provide for oneself and one’s loved ones  is the driving force for employment in most cases, this hard-fisted tack with its one-chooses-to-be-poor-or-not implication is naïve and unproductive. Elizabeth Mayton claims that her faith-based charity is founded on the Christian principle of helping the poor: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in…” (Matthew 25:35). If the government understood such an outlook, then the suggestion that food banks solve the symptom but not the problem would be swiftly followed by the realisation that they should therefore do more to tackle the root cause. Furthermore, though the rise in food banks and in funding may signal an increased reliance on local authority and charity, what else can be done when council budgets from April 2013 are going to be cut to 2005 levels and councils won’t be able to offer cash loans to applicants? Already, food suffers when the country’s poorest families try to make the money stretch: Save the Children’s report It Shouldn’t Happen Here shows that one in eight of the poorest children in the UK go without at least one hot meal a day, and one in ten of the UK’s poorest parents have cut back on food for themselves to ensure their children have enough to eat. Essentially, when giving a man a fish or a day is inadequate, the answer is never to stop giving him the fish, but rather to teach him how to fish, so that he may eat for a lifetime. In this case, though it may be easy to criticise the food banks’ short-term solution, such arguments have no real foundation when there is nothing better to take their place.

0

The hunger that’s building the Big Society

The rise in food banks across the UK has been met with staunch criticism © BotMultichillT

 

Food banks currently offer a crucial service in feeding some of the UK’s poorest families, and their number is set to multiply in the coming months. Yet what some optimistically describe as the onset of the Tories’ Big Society, others refer to as the institutionalisation of poverty. Even though food banks are a growing response to on-going problems such as mounting debt and inadequate benefits provision, some call the practice a long-term disaster, which sends the wrong message to the unemployed and impoverished. Nonetheless, the argument that self-sufficiency is better than charity does little to solve the problem since nothing is being done to make the underclass self-sufficient; invoking the potential pitfalls of the future is not enough when thousands are going hungry every day right now.

In the last year alone (2011-2), the UK’s 250+ food banks have fed around 130,000 people  – ten per cent of the 13 million Brits who currently live below the poverty line. Food banks are crucial because they help those who are not receiving adequate help elsewhere. For many, they provide a temporary stop-gap when the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) face problems in processing benefits: in the first three months of this year alone, 167,000 people’s Job Seeker’s Allowance was temporarily stopped. In many this can be down to a simple a bureaucratic mishap; Martyne Wilson from Coventry has described turning to her local food bank because once her teenage sister moved in, at the same time as the recent birth of her youngest child, the computer counted it as “too many children living in [her] house”, and all benefits except child benefit were stopped. Even in cases where the problem is not permanent, the reality behind this short-term glitch is that entire families can go without food allowances for weeks, and there is little hope of them getting food elsewhere, since in the vast majority of cases, claiming benefits is a last resort in the first place.

But less than half of those who turn to food banks go because of benefit delays; for an increasing number of people, both those who are unemployed and those who are in permanent work, paying back a mountain of debts can eat up all of their money, leaving them none for food. As housing prices, food prices and unemployment all rise, more and more people are being left at the mercy of doorstep and high street lenders, who often use manipulation, guilt and high interest rates to profit from their clients at the expense of their poverty.

One of the major advantages of food banks is that they feed people rather than give money (which can be misused), in a similar way to the food stamps and soup kitchens programmes that the United States has seen since the 1960s. However, it is such comparisons that the food banks’ biggest critics have used to disparage their work. Claiming that church- and charity-given food encourages people to stop relying on themselves or strive to be self-sufficient, they claim that food banks justify the lack of government initiatives (with the reasoning being that if people rely less on the government, the government will do less accordingly).

But how could community support in times of dire need become the norm, when the government knows that food banks are not meant to provide long-term solutions for individuals? Does poverty have to result in mass illness and death before the government sees it as something which urgently needs to be addressed?  If the government begins to rely on food banks then it is their fault for not dealing with claims process, and initiating programs to help the underclass escape unemployment, debt, lack of education, and every other cause for living in poverty.

Richard Seymour has even gone so far as to say that food banks do more harm than good, because when earning an income is the only way to eat, one is encouraged (read obliged) to work. The suggestion here is that promoting such a stiff upper lip helps the workforce, and thus the economy. (Accordingly, Seymour actually goes so far as to suggest that poor families sustaining themselves via food donations make his own middle-class existence precarious.) Whilst he is correct in saying that the desire to provide for oneself and one’s loved ones  is the driving force for employment in most cases, this hard-fisted tack with its one-chooses-to-be-poor-or-not implication is naïve and unproductive.

Elizabeth Mayton claims that her faith-based charity is founded on the Christian principle of helping the poor: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in…” (Matthew 25:35). If the government understood such an outlook, then the suggestion that food banks solve the symptom but not the problem would be swiftly followed by the realisation that they should therefore do more to tackle the root cause.

Furthermore, though the rise in food banks and in funding may signal an increased reliance on local authority and charity, what else can be done when council budgets from April 2013 are going to be cut to 2005 levels and councils won’t be able to offer cash loans to applicants? Already, food suffers when the country’s poorest families try to make the money stretch: Save the Children’s report It Shouldn’t Happen Here shows that one in eight of the poorest children in the UK go without at least one hot meal a day, and one in ten of the UK’s poorest parents have cut back on food for themselves to ensure their children have enough to eat.

Essentially, when giving a man a fish or a day is inadequate, the answer is never to stop giving him the fish, but rather to teach him how to fish, so that he may eat for a lifetime. In this case, though it may be easy to criticise the food banks’ short-term solution, such arguments have no real foundation when there is nothing better to take their place.

Tags: , , , , , ,


About the Author

Isabelle Mngadi

Isabelle has recently graduated from the University of Kent, with a degree in Comparative Literature. She has completed work experience with her local MP, Ann Keen, and during her time at university, a significant portion of her studies were dedicated to exploring neo-colonialism and post-colonial development in Africa and Latin America. She has a background in working with young people from the UK and all around the world, and is passionate about helping them express their voice and be a positive influence to those around them. She is mostly interested in discussing international politics, particularly the intricacies of conflict resolution, globalisation and the establishment of human rights.



Back to Top ↑