A Reading volunteering group, ‘Team v’, are campaigning to raise awareness about the realities facing people in food poverty, exploring the causes and consequences and galvanising the public to support food aid initiatives.
The team, which is part of a national network of young volunteers run by youth charity ‘vInspired’, held a Family Fun Day at Argyle Community Church recently to inform the Reading community on the causes and consequences of food poverty while collecting non-perishable food items to support the ReadiFood foodbank who deliver emergency food parcels to families and individuals across Reading.
Since 2011, the number of people using foodbanks has gone up 610%, from just over 128,000 to nearly 1 million in three years. A growing number of people are going hungry and being forced to rely on foodbanks to feed their families, and a major factor contributing to this increase is stagant income levels whilst living costs are continually on the increase. Recent changes to the welfare and benefits system have also had an impact and those individuals and families at the lower end of the income bracket have been the hardest hit. The United Kingdom is the sixth richest country in the world, however, with the substantive decline in living standards and an increase in poverty it seems to be one of the hardest hit.
Pictures: Lynda Bowyer
Members of the public were invited to bring along a tin of food to Argyle Church and enjoy indoor games, craft stalls, dance demonstrations and refreshments. Volunteers linked up with ReadiFood to collect and donate food, and promote their service.
Sarah Leigh, Team v leader for Reading, said: “This campaign has opened my eyes to the extent of food poverty in the UK. Working with ReadiFood has shown me how many people are affected in our area and how vital their services are. I hope that this event has encouraged people to support their local foodbank or even inspire those who might be in a difficult situation to seek help.”
Alison Peyton, from ReadiFood, said: “ReadiFood provides between 100-120 parcels a week. It takes a weight off peoples’ minds and it gives them strength to cope with other things. A woman came into the foodbank recently and when she saw me give her little boy a box of cereal, she just burst into tears because she didn’t know otherwise how they were going to have any food all weekend. It’s shocking to think that’s how we live in 2014. Donating food is a very simple way to help people and they really appreciate it.”
‘Team v’ is vInspired’s flagship leadership programmme which gives 18-25 year old volunteer Leaders the chance to change the world around them, one campaign at a time. vInspired is a charity which focuses on helping young people help themselves and others through volunteering and social action, and provides under 25s with opportunities to improve their life skills and employability.
vInspired makes volunteering fun and rewarding, and aids young people by helping them to express their creativity and develop their ideas. vInspired believes that by actively engaging young people at all levels of its work, it is more likely to reach and inspire other young people to take action for social good.
For more information or to find out details of how to become involved, visit www.vinspired.com