Christmas is a time for giving and receiving, but social policy students remind us to spare a thought for those whose experience of Christmas will be a different picture.
In Moor View, the constituency in which the University of St Mark and St John is based, 6518 children are living in poverty, representing 29.9% of the constituency population*.
Roland Agbhor, Agnes Cioffi, Rich Lake, Marie Perry, Faye Sanders and Elizabeth Seagram who are studying Social Policy have taken a stand, as is often the Marjon way, to put their money where their mouth is.
They are urging students and staff to help local people in crisis by buying items from the list below and giving them to the foodbank’s collection points found throughout the campus.
As well as students, staff from Marjon Library, Chaplaincy and the Student Union have pulled together to arrange the Plymouth Foodbank collection and are asking for the below items to be donated at the library collection point before 19 December:
Milk (UHT or powdered)
Fruit juice (long life carton)
Tinned rice pudding
Tea bags/Instant coffee
Instant mash potato
Biscuits or snack bars
This Christmas think about donating one of the items below that can be included in a Christmas Food Parcel
Box of Biscuits
In a passionate statement from the students, they said: "We cannot ignore the inequalities that are present on our doorstep but almost invisible as we are busy getting on with our daily lives.
"Our plea to you is as well as thinking about your Christmas shopping lists and making your special day, let’s bring the ‘our’ into your and think about the community as a whole.
"Being in receipt of benefits and living in poverty is not a lifestyle choice. Losing you job could happen to anyone at any time.
"We would like to ask you if you can imagine what Christmas day would feel like if you had to queue in a food bank to get food as your poverty level is so high that there is no other way to provide for your family at this special time of year.
"The stigma of going to a food bank and receiving benefits that don’t allow you to live to a standard that matches other families despite what is portrayed within the media, with programmes like “benefit street” that just do not highlight the reality of poverty in this country today."
In November 2016 the House of Commons produced a briefing paper 'Poverty in the UK: Statistics' which identified that, at its peak, 3.9 million children were living in absolute low income in the UK and that this figure is projected to rise.
In Plymouth this national figure translates into 6427 of children living in poverty in the Plymouth Sutton and Devonport Constituency representing 31 % of the population.
Christine Smith, Senior Lecturer in Children, Young People and Communities, added: “Poverty has a material and concrete impact and shapes the lived experiences of children, the decisions they make and how they participate in society. Some examples include whether the family can afford to purchase a warm winter coat, whether its possible to eat fresh fruit every day, have friends around for tea or participate in organised activities once a week.”
The Plymouth Foodbank provides vital support to people who are in financial crisis by providing them with much needed food and a listening ear and advice. Last year it distributed 7572 three-day emergency food supplies to people living in crisis.
The University has taken the idea of an reverse advent calendar which means that people can donate items from a list provided by Plymouth Foodbank up to the 19 December 2016.
*Mcguiness, F (2016) Poverty in the UK:Statistics. House of Commons Library.
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