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Letter: Some Points to Freely Digest

Published on: 28 Oct, 2020
Updated on: 27 Oct, 2020

From: Jim Allen

In response to: Free School Meals Row Rages in Guildford and Political Tempers Begin to Fray

I believe there are no starving children in the Guildford borough. But there may be some who need more food. Realignment of family finances could well solve this problem.

What do I mean? I was raised in a two-up, two-down terraced home, no hot water and outside toilet, no central heating, and a Dad who did anything, worked any hours, to feed his family.

I got a daily bowl of cornflakes from my gran while watching Coronation Street, Z Cars and Popeye on her black and white TV, the tick-tock and chimes of the long-face wall clock, the only way of telling the time.

So I say, cancel the mobile phone and Sky TV contracts, cut down on the non-essentials and use the money saved to provide more food.

Please, less of these emotional political and financial arguments. Let’s have some down-to-earth realism. Children will survive in these difficult times. Simple realignment of personal finances could well solve the problem.

The virus is not the government’s fault and it is not their responsibility to feed children. People need to accept some responsibility for themselves.

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test 11 Responses to Letter: Some Points to Freely Digest

  1. Steven Lee Reply

    October 28, 2020 at 8:31 am

    It’s the philosophy of the right that people should fend for themselves and the philosophy of the left that we should look out for one another.

    Which you think works best comes down to your own opinion and I appreciate that this is just an opinion.

    My own opinion is that one of the few things guaranteed in life is that there will be change. Perhaps a parent does have a mortgage or a phone or a Sky subscription and perhaps they can afford those things just fine until a change happens. A redundancy, a health issue, a pandemic related crisis and now they’re tied into costs they suddenly can’t afford and they’re going hungry just to try to feed their kids.

    Should we ignore that? The choice is ours.

    Personally, I think it’s wonderful that people are largely choosing to help because life is change and ultimately there, but for the grace of God, go all of us.

  2. Joanne Tester Reply

    October 28, 2020 at 8:39 am

    How can people access their Universal Credit without mobile phones? Does Jim Allen realise most people on universal credit are on it due to low wages? That means they work, but earn a pittance.

    School lunches you need to pay for online, school trips you need to pay for online, so mobile phones and the internet are today an essential. With a disturbing rise in suicides why on earth would anyone want to take away access to the outside world.

    The problem is, many of us don’t actually see the poverty because it’s not within our horizon. We may think we see pockets of it by driving around or reading the papers, but this really isn’t the same as seeing it and living it every single day.

    I do see it. Those with mortgages have been hit the hardest. They may have been given a mortgage break, but still have 100% responsibility for their property. Insurances, repairs. I wonder how they adjust their finances, do they feed the kids, pay the insurances or deal with the leaking roof?

    I would be very happy to share some real-life case studies. I would also be happy to share some local data (government data) that paints a very disturbing picture of what is actually really going on in areas of our town.

  3. Cecilia Taylor Reply

    October 28, 2020 at 9:46 am

    This letter shows up the problem with a dangerously nostalgic generation, who completely lack any understanding of today’s poorer society. I suggest that Jim Allen volunteers for a domestic abuse helpline for a day or speak to people who are forced to visit food banks.

    There are children being born into chaotic households through no fault of their own they are going to bed hungry.

    My turn to be nostalgic. I was brought up in a children’s home because of chaotic parenting. My brothers and I went to bed hungry.

    Don’t blame parents, bad things happen and some people can’t cope very well. Please just accept that children need food, and we have the power to be kind. Simple.

  4. Catherine Houston Reply

    October 28, 2020 at 12:45 pm

    Jim Allen “believes” there are no hungry children in Guildford Borough. He doesn’t know, he only believes. Facts simply do not matter any more.

    In January 2020 there were 14,400 children across Surrey (and yes, that includes Guildford Borough) who were entitled to free school meals because they live in situations where there is not enough money to feed them.

    Guildford tops the list of towns in the UK where benefit applications soared by 148% over the summer (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-53697256) caused by many of our neighbours having the rug pulled from under their feet with job losses and businesses unable to trade.

    Facts are inconvenient and painful, so best for the Jim Allens of this world to keep “believing” that everyone has healthy bank balances and that the pandemic hasn’t caused untold misery and fear to many living amongst us. Then the problem will go away and expecting some of our taxes to be spent on ensuring hungry children get one meal a day will look completely outrageous. I hope I’ve got that right?

  5. Keith Frost Reply

    October 28, 2020 at 2:09 pm

    I too was brought up in a two-up, two-down terraced house. We had no hot water, no bathroom, a lavatory halfway down the back garden and (in the spirit of “The Four Yorkshiremen”) no electricity. My father too worked long hours and travelled, which was considered a long distance in those days, to get the best wages.

    However, he had the benefit of what was called a “workman’s ticket” on the railway and the rent was only 10/6 a week. My mother worked too so I was what was called a “latch key kid” and in the winter, had to light the fire and the gas light when I got home from school. We only had a “steam” wireless for entertainment and once a week my mother would send me to the corner shop to exchange the accumulator (a heavy glass rechargeable battery).

    While I had a happy childhood, was well fed and all this might sound idyllic to Mr Allen with his rose-tinted spectacles, I for one certainly don’t want to return to those “good old days”.

    By the way, my grandmother lived a couple a hundred miles away and I’d rather eat the box than cornflakes.

  6. Mark Allison Reply

    October 29, 2020 at 1:44 am

    I’d be intrigued to learn what Mr Allen feels would be a better use of the tax payers money than feeding starving children? And perhaps his grandmother should have sold her TV to buy food if their situation was so precarious?

  7. James Tomalin Reply

    October 29, 2020 at 8:27 am

    I grew up in Guildford 30-40 years ago and there were children “starving” then, so I “believe” there are now. Malnourishment and poor nutrition generally is a curse of poverty, and a substantial barrier to the ongoing education and health of the young, as well as limiting their future.

    All public authorities have a legal responsibility to actively protect children. That means they should avoid subscribing to the cloud cuckoo land belief that all parents will be able to, want to, or even recognise they have a duty to, look after their children well.

    In these chaotic times, let us at least ensure there is less chance of poor children falling further down the gaps. I’d rather not pretend the gaps just shouldn’t exist.

  8. Brian Creese Reply

    October 29, 2020 at 2:07 pm

    According to Professor Danny Dorling at Oxford University, Guildford is the eighth most unequal borough in England. So while it has many who earn £160,000 a year – enough to propel you into the top 1% of earners in the country – we also have many struggling to survive on the minimum wage.

    The median household income in the UK is around £28,000, which means there are as many people who earn less than £28,000 a year in the country as there are who earn more. Two of Guildford’s wards – Stoke and Westborough – are amongst the 10 most deprived in Surrey. So I do wonder where Mr Allen’s knowledge about the likelihood or not of there being starving children in this shockingly unequal borough come from. Trying to live in a town like Guildford on the (furlough adjusted) minimum of £5.81 an hour is a real struggle and many will find it just too hard. The real solution to this is, of course, that the rich need to provide more funding for the poor through taxation, but for the moment the minimum the government should do is use our taxes to ensure no child goes hungry in this country.

    Brian Creese, chair of the Guildford Labour Party

    • Jim Allen Reply

      October 29, 2020 at 3:57 pm

      Median £28,000? Wow, my last salary before retirement was £23,000. Guess I am not in a position to comment about rich and poor as I have no experience of earning such large sums. I survived by not borrowing on credit cards for 30 years.

      Do people really earn £160,000 a year? How do they manage with all that excessive money?

      • Jules Cranwell Reply

        October 30, 2020 at 1:59 pm

        That level of pay and more is not uncommon in the world I worked in. However, those on those salaries pay a huge amount of tax and tend to pay for private education and medical cover, reducing the burden on state schools and the NHS.

  9. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    October 31, 2020 at 9:43 am

    I am close to being an octogenarian and so unable to help my community physically in this pandemic, unlike so many of our younger people who are carrying out essential jobs and services. However, as a family we help various charities and I am sure many of us who can, do so.

    An inspirational guidance from my Baha’i Faith, we try to live by and I quote: “Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbour, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy… a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit upon the tree of humility.”

    The full quotation can be found in: https://reference.bahai.org/en/t/b/GWB/gwb-130.html

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