Friday 17 February 2017

A visit to The Basic Idea food bank in Belper

I was asked by John Owen to accompany him on a visit to the Belper food bank which is run by Hope for Belper. John Owen is the Labour County Councillor for the Belper Ward (or should that be Belper division). Councillors have a limited amount of money that they can disburse to causes or groups in their locality and Councillor Owen wished to make an award of £1,000 to Hope for Belper in recognition of the vital part they play in the life of the town. We were greeted by Gareth Greenwood of Hope for Belper.

Gareth Greenwood accepting a cheque from Clr. John Owen
In true journalistic fashion I asked both these chaps for a quote (much easier to report something if you only have to write down what others say)

Gareth said

"Alongside the many volunteer hours each year and the very generous food donations from many across the town and beyond, monies such as this £1000 from Councillor Owen are absolutely vital to enable the project to continue.  There is not one main 'sort' of person who comes to The Basic Idea food bank for help.  Family and/or financial crisis can affect any one of us at any time.  The churches that together, through Hope for Belper, run the food bank, see this as a natural part of loving their neighbours.

Through the more recent addition of CAP (Christians Against Poverty) Debt Management, CAP Money Courses and CAP Lifeskills, Hope for Belper is reaching forward to a time when some of our neighbours will no longer require help from a food bank."

John commented

"The existence of this food bank is evidence that there is real need in the town. The food bank delivers a vital service for people that have fallen through the safety net of our benefit and social security systems. Looking at the donated food packed on these shelves It is heart warming to see the generosity and caring nature of the folk in this area. Many struggle to find work or find it hard to make ends meet so if this food bank did not exist they would go hungry."

Gareth has sent me a few facts about the operation:

During 2016 we received 347 referrals from 14 separate agencies

The number of distinct families and individuals we helped was 153 with a very small number of families and individuals receiving repeated help over the period and with others being referred multiple times over shorter periods

The top four most frequent referrers over the year were...

Job Centre 112
Children's Centre 111
Chevin House Hostel 39
CAB 24

Most frequent reason for requiring help is Benefit delay accounting for 75 referrals - this number increases to 103 for all benefit related referrals or equating to 30% for 2016

Debt accounts for a further 70 (2 out of every 10) with the next biggest being 68 referrals being due to families struggling on low incomes

We have had the Christians Against Poverty (CAP) Debt Management service in place for nearly a year and have been able to support CAP clients thorough the process of getting free from debt by providing food boxes as part of that program

In conclusion

If you are interested in donating to the charity or perhaps becoming a volunteer then You can find out more details about all of the Hope projects from our website and FB pages - just click on Hope for Belper / H4B FB page 

If you need to speak with your local County Councillor then contact details of John Owen can be found here:

Tuesday 7 February 2017

The Conservatives - the party of the NHS !!!!!!!!!

The BBC were given access to an accident & emergency unit (A&E) last week and this is their report: The Royal Blackburn Hospital A&E - February 2017 Please take the time to click on that link if you receive this blog by post, otherwise click on the video screen below:

This is a shocking report. Patients on the unit for over 13 hours, some waiting half a day to be even looked at as staff try heroically to deliver a professional service to their patients against impossible odds. The NHS is underfunded and under-staffed; a casualty of a callous government that puts dogma ahead of patient care. The minister in charge famously stated:

It most certainly is the party of the NHS (no apology if you detect a whiff of sarcasm)

In any other walk of life a failure of this magnitude would warrant a falling on the sword; at least a reshuffle to a less important post where he could do no harm but Jeremy Hunt survives despite presiding over a health service that is getting steadily worse. The reason why he remains is not difficult to understand if we accept the following from Noam Chomsky:

I suspect that it's not just those of us with a leaning to the left of politics that find truth in Noam Chomsky's words. I am sure that many on the right also know the truth of it but choose to give credence to the false charges that illnesses and disabilities are often the result of lifestyle choices therefore self inflicted ............... thus worthy of lesser compassion. Only a shrivelled heart would allow such judgements to be made.

There is much that angers me at the moment but the performance of Jeremy Hunt fills my head with expletives. You know, a rage at which your brain fails to put thoughts into a pattern that could, given a ghost of wind and a modicum of muscle co-ordination develop into recognisable speech (forgive me ...... I'm just trying to say that this leaves me speechless). All I can do is post the following:

I think these figures are already out of date, the situation now being far worse - please contact BelperStuff via the comment button at the bottom if you have more up to date figures.
Right now the budget deficit for the NHS in Derbyshire is £355 million pounds (probably well over £400 million by the end of the financial year). Every day voices from my radio talk of increasing problems getting a GP appointment, operations and treatments delayed and deferred, theatre staff standing idly by as bean counters cap the number of operations in a desperate attempt to keep within the impossible efficiency targets set by the government.

The cost of private health care

Oh yes the vultures are circling as the private health companies fight over the prone but not quite a carcass body of the NHS ................ but don't be fooled by their promises. Private health insurance is very expensive. I checked it out and was quoted £1,800 a year for a pensioner in their sixties ......... basic GP cover  (nearest 8 miles away) and theoretical unlimited treatment except for some problems which have a cap of 3 times within one year ............. oh and not forgetting if there is a flair-up of a pre-existing condition within the first 2 years of the policy then that treatment will become an extra. Of course the cost of prescriptions is on top of this so if we went for a private system to replace the NHS with it's collective tax based funding then the eventual cost could be well over £2,000 a year (£40 a week) which is in line with current NHS expenditure per capita in England but this after a shift from a progressive tax based system to a regressive private insurance regime. This, put simply, would be in line with the general trend to shift taxation from the rich to the poor. I know this may seem emotive but this is the inevitable result of privatisation or, as it is being played out in the shift of funding for social care, from income related tax (where the well-off pay more) to a basic levy on individual households via the council tax with no reference to income levels ............. the millionaire pays the same as those just above the benefits threshold .......... but even benefit recipients have to pay minimum 10% of council tax (thank you Osborne).

This could become a difficulty for EU citizens (not born in the UK) following Brexit. Changed legislation enacted in 2015 which limits EU citizens access to NHS services. This is of major concern and has the potential to penalise many who now have NHS right of access. That £2,000 sum mentioned above could be a real possibility for many hundreds of thousands who have been paying into the system for many years but because they do not possess a British passport will be deemed ineligible.