Fringe Box



The Dragon Says: Providing for Hungry Children is a Measure of Our Community

Published on: 30 Oct, 2020
Updated on: 31 Oct, 2020

No one wants our children to go hungry. There are few things less emotive than the thought of an ill-nourished child, especially in an affluent borough such as Guildford.

Most of us in the UK today have grown up with, and perhaps taken for granted, a welfare safety net. Many of us think it a good and necessary thing.

For some it is a lifesaver, the provider of essential free medical treatment, for others it is a conscience salver, allowing us to feel less uncomfortable about those who lack what we have.

See: reader’s letters and Free School Meals Row Rages in Guildford and Political Tempers Begin to Fray

The position of that safety net remains a contentious issue. Some who feel most strongly are those who struggle to stay just above it and feel their efforts to be self-reliant are undermined by those who fall with a shrug into the net, expecting the state to support them.

But there is no perfect solution. State help will always be abused by some and not used enough by others who deserve it. Of course, parents should feed their children but there will always be disorganised, less capable parents and others to whom, through no fault of their own, life has dealt a cruel hand.

What is surely true is that a hungry child is not guilty. They do not choose their circumstances. They have no control. We should feed them.

The young footballer, Marcus Rashford, is a very wealthy man now but he has shown his humanity, his charity, by remembering his experience as a child and using his voice to effect change. He truly knows the value of a square meal to an empty stomach.

There is a real issue about the way local councils are now funded but we should not let that distract us. Guildford borough, as a community, should make sure hungry children are fed, one way or another.

Council leader Joss Bigmore has said: “We are fortunate in Guildford, our community has stood up again, with local businesses working alongside this council to combat food poverty.

“Guildford Borough Council has continued to provide food parcels to the most vulnerable even after government funding for this stopped back in the summer.”

There are caring councillors across the political spectrum, caring council officers, charity volunteers, businessmen and women and many others in our community who do care. That care is being harnessed and we should all support it to ensure there are no hungry children here.

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