Review: Food Banks

On 7th September a small handful of us collected in the upstairs room at the Prince of Peckham. The pub was noisy downstairs but our room – doubling as the karaoke room and therefore sound-proofed – was blissfully quiet and, almost as important on a warm day, air-conditioned. The staff were attentive and we settled in with our drinks. 

Unfortunately the evening didn’t always go as smoothly, with transport problems meaning our speaker was nearly an hour late and one of our members having a car breakdown she had to return to. However, we salvaged what we could of the evening in true humanist spirit and plunged into the topic of the evening – Food Banks. 

Our speaker was Helen Mason, the director of Helping Hands food bank – a part of Action for Refugees in Lewisham. Helen gave us some overviews of the situation locally (over 40 food banks in Lewisham, relying mainly on volunteers and all supportive of each other) and some of the systemic issues which result in food banks. It is clear that handing out parcels of food isn’t the best way of helping – using a voucher system gives more agency and is a step towards cash first, which is ultimately the best way of support. Helen suggested some ways we can be involved, including writing to our MPs and sharing socials. 

We watched a short film together and then asked questions and discussed issues, including the effect of the illegal immigration bill and one of our group shared her experienced of hosting refugees and the treatment of them by the Home Office.