Shropshire Star comment: Too many families facing hardship this winter

The UK is the world’s sixth richest nation. Surpassed only by the US, China, Japan, Germany and India, we are also comfortably within the top 30 nations by ranking in respect of wealth per person.

Children are going hungry this winter.
Children are going hungry this winter.

It is remarkable, therefore, that the UN agency Unicef has boots on the ground to deliver food parcels to those affected by Covid-19. Hungry children, so-supported by Marcus Rashford, are in dire need. If things are that bad for a rich nation, what is the situation like in the other 170 or so nations whose per capita wealth is lower?

The position is going to get worse. As Covid-19 continues to scar the economy and as the financial impacts of Brexit cause contraction and uncertainty among numerous businesses, the immediate outlook is bleak. Food bank use is increasing and unemployment is rising. The working class is being joined by the middle class as handouts are required to see them through the week. Millions of people can literally no longer afford to put bread on the table.

There are an increasing number of families facing hardship this winter. The winter grant scheme is a welcome help – but it demonstrates clearly the pressures facing society, which are only going to increase in the coming months. Local councils are receiving grants through the Government’s Covid Winter Grant Scheme to fund initiatives like food vouchers, help with paying water bills and buying essential items like nappies.

The Government is insistent that no child should have to worry about food or warmth this winter, though it is clear that hundreds of thousands will have to do just that. Charity is frequently required where the state fails or cannot plug gaps in our society. Across the region, a great many will be working through the festive season to reach those most in need. Their support and can-do attitude has been a feature of the past 12 months and many would be worse off without them. The festive season is a time for compassion, kindness and generosity. We all have it within us to help others; whether that is providing material, practical or emotional support.

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