Sad indicator
of a city now united by the recession

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Perhaps those convinced there is a north/south divide in Portsmouth will look again at our story today on page 12.

Many who live in the southern half of the city often sniffily refer to the northern section as ‘better-off’ or ‘posh’.

The current crisis in the main shopping area of North End is one indicator.

Another is the launch last night of a food bank in the same district – a hand-out destination which has come to symbolise the recession of the past seven years.

There was a time when such a resource to the north of Portsea Island would have been derided.

No longer.

Dozens of families in the area have been given help to travel to food banks at Southsea which is why North End Baptist Church and its minister, the Rev Tracey Ansell, have decided to help.

And before the cynical pipe up and claim the recipients of the weekly food bank are nothing more than benefit scroungers, Mrs Ansell says: ‘Twenty-five per cent of people who use the food bank are actually working and on low incomes.

‘That is why we felt the best time to open would be 5pm to 6pm to help those who need to come after work.’

This paper recently reported that food banks were here to stay in light of the changes to welfare and benefits announced by chancellor George Osborne last month.

Many independent economic experts have predicted the national minimum wage will not be enough to cover the loss of tax credits and cap on benefits. That loss of income for people who are already low paid, people living close to the edge, will make life more difficult and see the growth in the number of food banks in, allegedly, more affluent areas.

Now Portsmouth really is an undivided city.