Denis Curran, Head of Food Bank Charity, on Hunger due Welfare Sanctions

This is another piece I found on Youtube. It’s a charity worker for Loaves and Fishes, a food bank, before the Scots parliament way back in 2014, talking about his work delivering food to the absolutely poverty-stricken, hit by the government’s savage cuts and sheer exploitation by grasping employers. And it’s very powerful and moving stuff.

Mr Curran talks about people traipsing three or four miles from the town centre, just to get something to eat. A mother, who hasn’t eaten for three days, because she’s been trying to feed her children. And then there’s a man, who worked for two hours for a prospective employer, and, unbidden, cleaned up after himself, only to be told that ‘he wasn’t suitable’, and sent home without any pay for the two hours he’d put in. One man he saw had been sanctioned for eleven weeks. That’s eleven weeks without money. He talks about the rise in suicide from sheer desperation by the people hit by the cuts. He also talks about how some official agencies won’t store food, because their employees have left the room in a mess, and they don’t want to encourage it, or they fear cross contamination from the different types of food if they’re put together. Or they want it delivered, but they have to keep within their budgets, so there’s no help for it. Curran also states that he’s a pensioner, who uses two sticks and sometimes he can’t get about. But if he can’t make a delivery for a certain social work agency on a certain day, he’ll get told that he can’t make another delivery until Wednesday, because of the way that agency’s doing things. As a result, the family that needs it haven eaten up till then. He talks about people going to food banks to get baby clothes for a new baby. He states that the government see people on benefits as scroungers and layabouts, when this is not the case, and are penalising them for being poor. He describes how quickly the sanctions legislation was passed. They made the decision on a Thursday, and then five days later, the next Tuesday, it became law. He asks what would happen if MPs were forced to go without pay, their gas, water and electricity cut off, and their fridges emptied, so they were forced to use food banks. Not how they would cope financially, but how it would affect them mentally. He also states that he’s been coming to meetings like this since 1993, and the only thing changes is that he keeps coming to more meetings. And he expects to be coming to another one in 2016. He recalls that he and his wife grew up during the Second World War. And he criticises the government for making us a 21st century society, but with 1930s values. Back during the War they gave you a ration book. Now it’s vouchers for a food bank. ‘What’s the difference, eh?’

It’s powerful, angry stuff, from someone, who is on the frontline of trying to help people keep body and soul together. Mr Curran comes from East Kilbride, and describes how he travels about all over Scotland to deliver his food parcels. Listening to him, this viewer from south of the Border was reminded of Iain Patterson’s fictional Rab C. Nesbit and his acute observations on poverty, society and politics. Nesbit was a benefits’ scrounger, and the show was comedy, but it also took the opportunity to tell some very harsh truths about the attitude of the Jobcentres, smarmy politicians and clergy, who affected concern for the poor, but had little real understanding, as well as other manifestations of pomposity, meanness, stupidity and arrogance.

Unfortunately, this is all real. And its victims aren’t scroungers like Nesbit. And there’s nothing funny about this situation at all.

As for seeing how the MPs would survive mentally if you could off their household supplies, leaving them with only the food bank to rely on, it’s manifestly obvious that they couldn’t cope. And they know it. Thirty years ago when Thatcher started cutting benefits, Geoffrey Dickens was invited by Channel 4 to survive on the dole for a week. He couldn’t. By the end of the week, his water and electricity had been cut off, and the food cupboard was empty. But the Tories have learned their lesson. Unfortunately, what they’ve learned is not to take up such challenges. One Tory MP, it might have someone from IDS’ wretched department, was invited to take part in a similar experiment for television. He turned it down, saying it was just a stunt. He knew he couldn’t survive, and didn’t want to give the opposition and viewing public the opportunity to watch him have to eat his words, ’cause there was precious little else he had left. But that’s the only thing that’s changed. The rhetoric of reproach hasn’t. Mr Curran talks about how ministers accuse the poor of going to food banks because their lazy and scroungers, when the truth is far from that. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what Edwina Currie has been saying, to give one example. When Panorama did a programme on the rise of food banks, she appeared on it to give her view that people were using them simply because they could, and they didn’t represent a rise in real poverty. Well, they are an indication of the grinding poverty and hunger that’s gripping Britain. And Currie’s a disgrace, along with all the other Tories, who claim otherwise, and especially Ian Duncan Smith and Stephen Crabb, Cameron’s heads of the DWP, who are responsible for the implementation of the cuts.

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9 Responses to “Denis Curran, Head of Food Bank Charity, on Hunger due Welfare Sanctions”

  1. vondreassen Says:

    Edwina Currie is a disgusting person…

    • beastrabban Says:

      Absolutely no disagreement about that from me. She’s also one of those, who thinks they’re far more intelligent than they actually are, and can’t quite work out why others don’t feel the same. I don’t know if anyone can remember that far, but I remember when she was in Major’s government cutting the winter fuel allowance. When people complained, she said that the elderly should simply wrap up warmly.

      Clive Anderson had her on his show one Friday, and asked her about this policy. She described it, and said of Britain’s pensioners, ‘That’ll teach ’em.’ The audience started booing her, as you’d expect someone would. But not, apparently, Eggwina. She looked around confused, as if she really, really couldn’t understand why anyone would possibly disagree with her sneering at the aged poor.

      I also recall her in the 1990s appearing on Have I Got News For You, and trying to outwit Ian Hislop. It was really embarrassing, as she really is nowhere near his level of intelligence. She was talking about how she successfully sued someone for libel. Then she looked at Hislop and said, ‘Aren’t you glad I didn’t sue you’. He shot back at her, ‘Aren’t you glad, my dear.’

      And this woman had an Oxbridge education. How? Oh yes – money and privilege. Always compensates the toffs for a lack of brains.

      • joanna Says:

        There is not one bit humanity in that things body, she even sneered at people being given noodles and biscuits, saying they are non essential. The food bank manager said they are absolutely essential as they give variety to a diet.

        She also said there is no food poverty and that if people don’t “save” for a rainy day then that is their choice, and the government should not have to pay for poor choices!
        She makes me sick!
        She even at one time verbally tore into Jack Malone because Jack was on benefits for a time. fortunately Jack could hold her own in the debate!!!

      • beastrabban Says:

        I’d forgotten about the noodles and biscuits comments by Eggwina, but you’re right – she’s a vile individual. To be honest, I don’t think she really thinks or cares about the stupid guff she says about the poor. I think she just duly parrots whatever line the Tory front bench tell her. And so she was trotted out on there to repeat the lies IDS and co manufacture against food banks and the people, who are forced to rely on them. Disgusting!

  2. sdbast Says:

    Reblogged this on sdbast.

  3. Florence Says:

    Don’t forget Grayling was also part of the Tory DWP team. He, with IDS, is being investigated by police in Scotland for their part in causing claimant deaths that were avoidable. Thanks to Black Triangle for making the initial complaint to the authorities.

    • beastrabban Says:

      Thanks for that, Florence. I didn’t realise that Grayling was also part of it, but it doesn’t surprise me. There really is not one shred of decency in them. And kudos to Black Triangle for making the complaint against them to the police. I think it’s great that the cops are investigating IDS and co for their culpability in the deaths of so many benefit claimants.

  4. Denis Curran, Head of Food Bank Charity, on Hunger due Welfare Sanctions | Beastrabban’s Weblog – stewilko's Blog Says:

    […]… […]

  5. stewilko Says:

    Reblogged this on stewilko's Blog and commented:
    Mr Curran brilliant, this is a national scandal and horrific

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