On Giving

December 14, 2017 by Ray Morgan

For the past couple of years at work, we've done a Reverse Advent; bringing in long-life food items for Southend Food Bank in December, donating to people who are struggling at Christmas.

Despite Jacob Rees-Mogg's awful utterance that Food Banks are "uplifting" (newsflash: there's nothing uplifting about people not being able to afford food or tampons you utter, utter arse-hat), it's really upsetting that our local food bank is so in demand. Did you know that almost 3,000 emergency 3-days-of-food supplies were given to people in crisis from the Trussel Trust last year? Did you know that 1 in 5 people in this country live below the poverty line?

When we're scurrying about fretting over gift wrap and whether that 2016 bottle of Advocaat is still ok, it's easy to forget how lucky we are. Of course it is. I get it. We're in a very cosy, comfortable little bubble in SS9, aren't we? We're one of the happiest towns in the UK! The average rent in Leigh-on-Sea is over £1,000 a month, which is more take-home pay than a lot of people could dream of. There's currently a 3-bed house on Rightmove for £1,200,000. You get my point.

I'm not asking you to feel guilty, but what I am asking you is to consider other people who are not so lucky. Southend Food Bank have a pick up point in Leigh Waitrose. When you're doing your festive shop, why not pick up a few bags of rice, a few tins of soup, some long-life milk, some sanitary towels and wet wipes? (Seriously, women reading this, can you imagine the shame in not being able to afford sanitary products? This is a very real crisis for women in poverty. Going without towels or tampons is not only hugely demoralising, it's also a health issue.) It won't cost you much, but for someone desperately in need over Christmas, it could mean the world.

My family, my in laws and I have all decided to follow a "one present" rule at Christmas this year. It can get out of hand can't it? All those presents, all those Boots 3 for 2 offers where you're wildly wrapping a generic body lotion gift set for someone even though you know they'll probably regift it anyway. It's just stuff, isn't it?

One present each means you really can get one thing you want. Like my sweet Dad, who wants to build some more paths at his allotment, so we're buying him some wood. I won't wrap the planks - maybe a bow will do. My partner and I haven't done presents for each other for a few years - our birthdays sandwich around Christmas anyway and we don't need more stuff now we've downsized into a small one-bed flat. Instead we're taking each other out for dinner on Christmas Eve, and we have bought a new lamp for the front room. Crazy, I know.

I also read with cheer that thanks to National Rail, St Mungo's charity and the Streets Kitchen project, on Christmas Day, the whole of Euston Station is going to become one giant homeless shelter. Isn't that a beautiful gesture? I cried when I read it, not just because I'm tired from noisy neighbours and am woefully premenstrual (if I see a children's choir singing Christmas songs this week, I MAY disappear in a puddle of tears, Amelie-style) but because it's perfectly what Christmas should be about.

I donated to St Mungo's charity immediately, cheered by what they're doing. It's money I could have spent on the usual guff I'm always tempted to buy because I am a millennial snowflake (overpriced scented candles, industrial quantities of Ritter Sport Marzipan, apps that superimpose glitter on all my photos) but f*** it - I don't need it. There are definitely others who need it more.

Just a gentle reminder to give a bit more to those in need this Christmas. Like I said, it doesn't cost the earth, but it can mean the world.


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