It was interesting to read in the Courier (January 30) that local MP Chris White is “trumpeting” the apparent fall of 75 per cent in those receiving Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA) in Warwick and Leamington as I had just returned from my weekly stint at the Warwick Foodbank where we dealt with 13 of those erstwhile ‘claimants’, all holding legitimate Food Vouchers, some even issued by Job Centres.
This included young couples with small children, single mothers with babies and the single homeless, so in total we probably fed something like 30 local people.
And this is just Warwick - there are four more such Foodbanks in Leamington open between Monday and Thursday, as well as in most local towns, such as Kenilworth, Southam and Wellesbourne.
As Mr White may have noticed, there are people begging in shop doorways in Leamington and homeless souls sleeping in the streets in our towns and cities in sub-zero temperatures. He may wish to try and convince us, and himself, that 75 per cent of the unemployed in this area have now found jobs, or it could actually mean that having been ‘sanctioned’ from receiving JSA, for whatever spurious reasons Job Centres can conjure up, or maybe even if some of them do actually have part-time jobs offering the minimum wage or zero-hours contracts, they still can’t afford to feed their families. I’ve been a volunteer at the Warwick Foodbank in Saltisford since it first opened some 18 months ago and I can assure him that unfortunately the situation has got worse, not better.
If he finds this all difficult to believe, I suggest that perhaps Mr White himself should attend one of the local Foodbanks and hear some of the unbelievably heart-breaking stories we hear on a weekly basis, as I am sure he is not a man who lacks compassion.
John Payton, Kettlewell Close, Woodloes Park, Warwick