Homeless, Unemployed, Addicted, Lonely & Hungry
In Bath (and no doubt elsewhere) people gather every evening beside a bleak car-park. They receive hot soup and coffee, sandwiches, cakes and fruit from the hands of willing volunteers. The churches of the city and district give this free service to their neighbours on a rota.
Elsewhere, Julian House provides shelter, move-on housing and rehabilitation. In Bath, and now in Somer Valley, voluntary organizations, the churches, and the Ammerdown Centre have organized Food Banks. These arrange, with the help of supermarkets and individuals, basic food supplies for people who have qualified for welfare benefits, but who face a penniless gap before their giro cheque arrives.
Are we, I wonder, going back to days like those of the depression in the 1930s, the time of the Jarrow Work March? The voluntary response to real needs on our doorstep is wholly admirable. But is this social justice? We live in a rich and technologically advanced age. In the City of London, and even in public services, huge bonuses are still paid. The few receive golden hellos, hand-shakes, and pension pots. The top sports players and entertainers get rewards beyond the imagination of the ordinary worker. Some can afford yachts and private jets, while at humbler levels many are over-fed and over-weight.
Is it not high time that we discussed these issues with our elected councillors and Members of Parliament? We are offered a combination of financial cuts and welfare reform. Will these be sufficient to restore fairness in society, to reduce envy and to give again a sense that everyone can contribute to the common good of all?