If you want to know about the very real effects of the recession, talk to the people who run food banks. Day in, day out they see those who are struggling to buy even the basics of life.
For some, the problem may be that they have lost their jobs and not been able to find others as companies cut costs by shedding staff or not replacing those who leave.
Or maybe they do have work, but are on such low incomes that, with rising food and energy prices, it’s hard to afford the kind of things the rest of us take for granted.
Then there’s the dreaded benefit gap, where circumstances change and benefits are stopped straight away, with the claimant having to wait weeks for it all to be sorted out. In the meantime, they have no money for essentials.
As our economic woes continue, people are being driven into poverty.
The statistics are shocking. In Portsmouth, 1,012 people were fed through the city’s food bank in the first three months of this year – 27 per cent up on the same period in 2011.
The Fareham and Gosport bank saw a 49 per cent rise year on year, while the Havant-based food bank at Portsdown Community Church says it has seen a 63 per cent jump in users.
These numbers underline how important food banks are to help those who are unable to help themselves. But as more people swallow their pride and seek assistance, so stocks run low.
Martin Mant, of the Portsmouth Food Bank at Kings Church in Elm Grove, Southsea, says they badly need more donations to fill up their shelves and cater for demand. The other food banks are experiencing the same problem.
He adds: ‘We desperately want to carry on making sure people are getting the help that they need.’
We urge everybody who can afford it to consider donating foodstuffs to their local banks. As Mr Mant says, it could be a single tin of soup if that’s all you can manage. But that could help to ensure that somebody doesn’t go hungry.
Please give what you can. Because who knows, one day it might be you needing the help.