Frank Field MP
Your MP for Birkenhead
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Good and bad news from Feeding Birkenhead

13
Jan

As always when I report back on our Feeding Birkenhead campaign, there is a mixture of depression and excitement.

For when we met last Thursday at FareShare’s new Wirral depot, groups helping to feed Birkenhead’s hungry reported that some residents spent Christmas Day in cold, dark homes with no food. Others had begged for a candle or two to avoid having to endure this prospect.

Around two in five families – including those working in insecure jobs – who are turning to Feeding Birkenhead projects for help have no gas or electricity. They simply cannot afford to pay the bills.

Harrowing too were reports of the destitute homeless searching in the cold for anything they could prepare and eat with their fingers.

The good news is that thanks to FareShare, His Church and other groups helping to rescue edible food that becomes surplus in retailers’ supply chains, Feeding Birkenhead will have enough good food to continue our free school holiday provision throughout 2016. No child therefore should face the prospect of going hungry during the school holidays.

There is more good news. Having taken up Feeding Birkenhead’s proposal automatically to identify and register all poor children who are eligible for free school meals, Wirral Council has secured £725,000 in additional government funding to support their education.

But some of the problems that bring hunger into play can only be solved at a national level. I have written therefore to the Business Secretary asking for a review of workers’ wellbeing on zero hours contracts, to the Treasury asking them to protect the income of tax credit claimants’ while their claims are recalculated, and to the Energy Secretary asking for a new deal on prepayment meters to be phased in by 2020. A further list of proposals has been submitted to the Department for Work and Pensions.

If each of these reforms were to pass they would cut to a minimum the number of our fellow citizens needing to spend another Christmas Day alone, cold and hungry.


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