Shivering and delirious through lack of sleep, the young man arrived at Batley Food Bank begging for help.
Homeless for two weeks, he’d been sleeping rough in Huddersfield and not knowing where else to go he decided to walk to Batley Food Bank.
The on-duty volunteer was deeply worried about his wellbeing and attempted to get help by ringing social services.
When she couldn’t get through she hurried over to their office opposite the food bank, but her desperate knocking was ignored. A very unsatisfactory situation and something I’ll be raising with Kirklees Council.
When the young man got increasingly delirious, advised by a social worker who happened to be at the food bank collecting a parcel for another constituent, the volunteer rang 999 and the young man was finally admitted to hospital with hypothermia.
This young man could be your friend, brother, son, nephew or grandson.
For so many people, absolute poverty is only a few steps away. We lose our job. Our marriage collapses. We lose our home.
Bad luck, illness or misfortune can affect anyone at any time and having a job in today’s labour market is no longer enough to escape poverty.
Spending time at the Batley Central Methodist homeless drop-in is always a pleasure, and I’m always astonished and admiring of the volunteers who devote their time and effort to support those with the least.
I am, however, dispirited by the growing numbers in need of their support – almost double in the last six months alone.
The gap between the haves and the have-nots is widening and this government’s failure to improve equality should worry us all.
The lack of progress on closing the gap was jettisoned onto the front pages this week when every single member of the Social Mobility Commission – a government organisation with an ex government minister on the team – handed in their resignations, with its chair Alan Milburn saying ‘there was little hope of Mrs May’s administration delivering a more equal society’.
Deeply concerning when only this week The Joseph Rowntree Foundation announced that Britain’s record on tackling poverty had reached a turning point with nearly 400,000 more children and 300,000 more pensioners are living in poverty than five years ago.
And I see it as I visit my constituents. The parents working on zero hour contracts using food banks. The older lady, desperately depressed, trapped in her home by poverty, worrying how she’ll pay her bills.
We can’t let this happen and need to invest in affordable homes, good education for our youngsters, a proper, decent living wage and genuinely free childcare accessible to all.
During this period of generosity and goodwill, I would say to all, please think about those with the least because fairness matters.