An open letter to the Daily Mail…

The Daily Mail chose today to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, champion of the oppressed, by publishing this article today.  Here’s my response.

 

Dear Daily Mail,

I’ve got a little boy.  His name is Isaac, and he’s nearly three.  Like any little boy, he loves cars, balls, and running around.  He’s barely ever still.

A few days ago though, he was.  I took him to the supermarket to spend his pocket money, and we passed the donation basket for our local food bank.  It was about half full – nothing spectacular, in fact, mostly prunes and pasta – and he asked what it was.  As simply as possible, I tried to explain that it was for people to give food for other people who couldn’t afford it.

This affected his two year old brain fairly deeply.  After a lot of thought, he decided to spend a little bit of his pocket money on some treats to donate, because “children haffa have treats when they mummy and daddy is sad!”  Nothing exciting.  A chocolate swiss roll (about 29p), some angel delight (about 40p).  Just a treat for a child, from a child who cares.

Daily Mail, I’ve got to ask.  Why does my two year old get it better than you do?

See, here’s the thing.  You may (I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt here) believe that your article, in which you decried the “abuse” of food banks, and sent your reporter in to see what he could get, was done for entirely moral reasons.  If that is the case, and you were doing it for all the best reasons, I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to disabuse you.  You simply could not have been more wrong.

Here’s what you acheived.  You made hardworking, desperate, humiliated people out to be a bunch of scroungers, out to milk the system for all it’s worth.  Have you ever had money troubles?  Not the “I can’t wait until payday, I can buy that new dress” kind of trouble, but the “crap.  How do I feed my child today?” kind of trouble.  In 2012, I got made redundant.  Thanks be to God, we were ok.  But it wouldn’t have taken much to change that situation – and for the vast majority of people using the food banks, that’s exactly what’s happened.  They’re not scroungers, out for all they can milk from an unsuspecting charity.  They’re people who’ve worked as hard as they can possibly work, and life’s just handed them one disaster too many. 

Can you really imagine how much courage it takes to use a food bank?  I actually can’t imagine how much, having not had to use one.  It’s a courage I hope and pray I never have to find.  To admit that things are going wrong and that you or your family needs help is not a sign of weakness.  It’s a sign of incredible strength.  And you know what?  It’s also a gift.  The other day, Isaac and I were handed a gift.  The gift of looking beyond ourselves, and reaching out to someone else.  That’s one of the greatest gifts God can give anyone – the opportunity to be his hands and feet and sheer love in this world.   And without those incredibly brave people, who overcome pride and humiliation and shame to put their hands up and admit that life, right now, isn’t perfect, we’d never have been given it.

I’m not entirely sure what you felt you acheived with your undercover reporter, either. The Citizen’s Adice Beureau is an incredible organisation, underfunded and understaffed, and working their butts off for very little reward.  So what did you prove?  That your reporter can lie convincingly?  That charities are charitable?  That people would far, far rather take the risk of someone abusing the system than allow someone in need to go hungry?

I hope Isaac’s swiss roll is sitting in the belly of a little child right now.  You know what?  It wasn’t essential.  But I hope it’s made a little child, in the middle of the storms and stresses that are invariably occuring when mum and dad are at that level of poverty, smile, and realise that life can’t be too bad when there’s still chocolate around. 

But you know what?  Even if it hasn’t – even if it’s gone to somebody who really doesn’t need it – I will always encourage my child’s loving sensitivity.  I hope he will always have the same heart for others as he has now, and I still plan to make food bank donations something we do as a family.  Because whilst people are hungry, and struggling, I can’t sit silent.  I can’t allow some leglaisitc moralistic claptrap to get in the way of what Jesus really wants me to do.  It’s Easter today, and we’ve been celebrating the new life God gives us.  But for so many people, it’s hard to see a new life when this one really sucks.  My little boy made a dent in the darkness the other day.  I pray one day your eyes are open to the God of all compassion, and you can join him.

 

 

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250 Responses to An open letter to the Daily Mail…

  1. Joan Edington says:

    This is a beautiful letter that must pull at the heartstrings of any normal person. Unfortunately, it will be like water off a duck’s back to anyone at The Daily Mail.

  2. Me says:

    A rant lacking any basis in fact.

  3. Dene LEY says:

    I cried after reading this letter. Well done Mr Cameron, you must be very proud of yourself. What has this country come to when a Prime Minister can talk about his Christian faith and say the foreign aid budget is his proudest achievement while at the same time having a total disregard for the poor and struggling people in his own country?

  4. This letter is all about loving people with the love of Christ.
    Thank you Andy for bringing up another generation of people who care about others.
    Claudette Mountjoy.

  5. archie says:

    Thank goodness that people stand up for the downtrodden. Martin Luther King, I believe said; ” the only time you should be looking down on someone is when you are helping them up “. I am disturbed by the money related divide that is separating people in this country which seems increasingly to be class driven. Tories do not understand poverty and the all encompassing challenges that are concomitant to it in terms of survival, affording education and training to be able to start getting on with the acquisition of worthwhile jobs and developing meaningful futures.

  6. Muriel pike says:

    We who claim to be Christians. Should have compassion on the people. Jesus fed 5,000 people at one time, if we are true followers of Him we will do likewise.

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  8. dnmufc says:

    Reblogged this on Dnmufc's Blog and commented:

    Very well put letter to the Mail on Sunday

  9. Frank says:

    Brilliant! Even if you are not a Christian

  10. ethnaparker says:

    Reblogged this on parkers_in_iceland and commented:
    Hats of to all the people that give up their time to spread a little love 365 days a year, every year. I would like to see their names added to the New Year’s honour roll.

  11. vinejuice says:

    Thanks for your letter, it is very moving. The actions of your son displays true religion according to James. I’m reminded that cynicism, corruption, exploitation, sin is no excuse, so long as there is a need we ought to do our bit to meet it. We are not responsible beyond our own response.

  12. Irene Wilson says:

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but i beleive that big majority of these people using food banks are addicts of some addiction, they are given money by us to live but use all that on their addictions and go to food banks for food, i would rather my money went to people abroad who have no government money to help them and are dying of hunger and thirst, our country is a rich country and has helped for yrs people who needed to claim benefits but now they are being forced to work which is what weve had to do for years and we have high cost of living due to all the money thats paid out in welfare costs, i wish i could find sympathy for these people who are winging but i know how they spend their benefit money and they get more than enough to help them feed themselves every week but choose to buy drink and drugs. These people are a disgrace to the generations before them who had it hard with no government money if theyre using theirs on addictions !!

    • squidgetsmum says:

      As you said, everyone is entitled to their opinions – but I disagree. And i think most people who are part of foodbank provision would say the same. People aren’t using them because of addiction, they’re using them to survive. Have a look at Aimee’s story on my blog. And yes, it’s really important to help those in other countries – but I fear that you’re seeing it ina very black and white way.

      • Irene Wilson says:

        i have family members and i had an alcholic father who has since died and i have seen the real affects of these addictions have on our families, they use the money on their drink rather than food for our kids, the people i know are spending around a £100 a week of their money on ciggarettes, i saw a program recently and it showed exactly the kind of people who are using food banks, alchoholics and drug addicts, we can only help these people so much but theyre addictions are like a bottomless pit and the more we help the more they will rely on us and stay on their drugs/drink, i know ist hand and i think these people have to hit rock bottom and have to help themselves, we all have to pay for all these people on benefits for whatever reason and they need to be taught how to budget their money like our older generation had to, its up to each person if they want to donate money but i think theres more harm done by giving them more money to feed their habits, i would love to hear all these peoples reasons why they use food banks and i can guarantee there is an addiction involved .

      • veronica says:

        Do you really believe what you wrote? Shame on you if you do, as it’s down to people just like you that thousands are suffering. I had to use a food bank due to my disabled husband not sending back a form he didn’t receive in the first place. Resulting in we haven’t had any money for 5 weeks now. We don’t drink, smoke or take drugs…but maybe I should take drugs they might stiffer the hunger pangs (joke).

      • squidgetsmum says:

        Irene, I’ve got no doubt you’ve seen some really difficult things. But we need to be discerning about the things we’re seeing – and the fact is that according to those on the chalk face, those actually running food banks etc, your generalisation is entirely inaccurate.

      • Tim says:

        That was a very kind response to an intensely ignorant woman. Thanks for being better than me.

    • Runesmith says:

      So when the Citizens’ Advice Bureau and others tell you they aren’t supporting addicts but people in genuine need, do you assume they are gullible fools, like the Mail does, or that they are lying? People who deal with the very poor know all about the effects of addiction, I can promise you, they’re not unworldy do-gooders.

    • joyce says:

      Do you honestly believe the crap you just wrote.My daughter is a hard working single mother who neither drinks,smokes or takes drugs,this government has just cut her housing benefit to save money but willingly spend over 25billion on trident missiles which are outdated,so get educated before you spout such twaddle.by the way which income bracket do you come under?
      not under 12,000 a year i bet.

      • Irene Wilson says:

        haha i am on a Domestics wage and i pay rent as i live on my own !!! Your daughter must be living in a private property thats costing more than i could afford, ill say exactly what i want on this matter after working hard since leaving school 30yrs ago and paying into this sponging society !!!!

    • helen says:

      It makes me really sad Irene that you feel this way. We may only be one IF away from Alcohol/Drug abuse, no one grows up with the aspirations of being an addict, however circumstances may quickly change. The mere fact that they are addicts suggests that they cannot STOP just like that, that is the nature of addiction. You suggest sending your money abroad to help people dying of hunger or thirst, however if these people who are addicts and using food banks stop, they will be dying of hunger and thirst. Is this your answer to the addiction problem? Just starve them to death. However, these people are someone’s chid/parent. It makes me so sad to think that we live in a society that tramples on our already down trodden. As for being a disgrace to the generations before them. Why? because the situation they found/find themselves in leaves them no sight of a way out, where the only way of coping may be drink/drugs. I hope and pray that you or any of your family and friends never fall on times like these, however who knows what is around the corner. Prayers and Blessings sent with this. x

      • Irene Wilson says:

        I can only say how i feel after being brought up with an alcoholic father and i have other family members who are now the same, we can kill these people with kindness, my father had no one on his back to go to work and get off drink, people kept giving him help but he needed to struggle and get his act together himself, where does it stop ??? we are killing these addicts with kindness, the generation before had it very hard and struggled so if they had taken drugs/drink then they had more reason than us, i just think this generation have never had it so good and get houses provided if they have kids and around 140 a week for single parent and child, an addicts gets about a 100 a week so they are being given money by us but if they cant live of that then they deserve no more from us, these poor families abroad get nothing like what we give our people, i dont know what kind of areas you live in but ive been brought up in council areas and see the devastation that drink and drugs bring to our families, we cant keep chucking money at them, they need to be made to work and have less time to get stoned/drink like my father was allowed to, thats what helping should be to get them off their addictions, beleive me i would never touch a drink or any other drug after living in this environment, i live in Edinburgh and see it constantly what drugs/drink do and i can assure you that nothing would make me be this kind of person,ive had a very hard life and i am proud of how i got strong and made a better life for myself but got and asked no one for help, i just worked my butt off, i just wish people would realise that tough love is needed with addicts and they need to be helped back to work to stop them having all day and night to feel sorry for their lives, they made their own lives like we all do but they blame everyone else for their problems, they are so selfish and only think of themselves and will rob us all for our last, ive had 2 flats broken into over the yrs and i feel sorry for me and our elderly people living in fear of them being targetted, i dont know if you realise this is all going on in our council areas.

      • Irene Wilson says:

        You say you pray that i or my friends/family never end up like this ?? thats why i have an opinion on this cause i was raised in a house with an alcoholic and have other family who are addicts/drunks, they are wasters and you cant keep giving them money, they have to be held accountable and be made to get clean but the more money we keep giving them they are spending on addiction, its not helping them, we have to get tough and make them get off their lazy butts and work so they will be too tired to sit and drink take drugs, this generation has had no more problems that generations before who had it harder than well ever know, my granny is 100 in may and has told me all her life story and they had no choice but to work, we have cheap alcohol in supermarkets and drugs easily available and these addicts are having a great old time at our expense.

  13. Irene Wilson says:

    People just dont want to hear the truth but ive seen people taking out pay day loans cause they cant budget their money cause of their fags/drink/drugs/gambling and theyre getting themselves into a mess, the people i know in my family or that program we watched shows us exactly whose using food banks, people who are using them need to be advised how to prioritise there money !!! I am working class and tell it how it is as ive lived thru poverty due to alcoholic parent and i can assure you he made our lives hell with drinking all the money and the program about food banks showed me exactly who was using them, a woman was smoking and had loads of pay day loans cause she was crap with her money so these people do not derserve my hard working donations i would give gladly abroad to people who genuinely live in poverty !!!

    • It is true.

      Some benefit claimants are no good at budgeting.

      Some benefit claimants buy booze and fags.

      Some benefit claimants waste their children’s benefits.

      Not all, though. Not every unemployed person is unemployed through his/her own fault. Not everyone on the sick is swinging the lead.

      And even if they were- some people in the food bank would not eat that night otherwise. Is that what you want?

      • Irene Wilson says:

        I dont care if people give to whatever charity they want, we each have an opinion but this blog was an open letter to Daily Mail and slating government for being in wrong for making people have to use food banks, i think that the government is doing what us working class people have constantly moaned about for yrs having to work hard on minimum wage while these people sit on their backsides getting stoned etc, i am pointing out the other side of why people are in poverty thru their own fault, i bet there is more addicts than people just falling on hard times, i can only speak about my family and people i have had to live beside as neighbours and seeing them wasted and moaning about having no moeny, they have more money than most working people after we have paid our rent etc, ive seen enough programs recently like Benefit Street which is very true as it was like the street i lived in, as i say i am not getting into a debate, use have all gave your opinions like myself, we can go round in circles but i talk from experience and what people are doing now is not fixing our problems its just feeding more of their habits, ill leave it at that but i just wanted people to know that a very big majority of people using food banks are there because of addictions and are receiving enough money from us thru benefits.

  14. Irene Wilson says:

    I am just glad that government is finally clamping down on these spongers who claim they cant work and a few guys i know have never worked in last 20yrs and are claiming disability for what they can but are working in peoples gardens and fixing cars ??? ive seen it all beleive me and ive had to wait for yrs to get a decent flat after living 20yrs in high rise flats cause i chose not to have children but ive seen young mothers jump the housing list and us single working people are contributing to our communities and we get nothing, i have a cousin who claims disability for Agraphobia and shes taking the crap and going on Holiday for 4 weeks and is never in haha, i could go on and on but it would take me too long, i have a disabled brother who is genuinely disabled and hes out every day at a college and wants to get a job but because of health and safety and he has severe learning difficulties hes finding it hard to get a job so far, i just think people in this generation think theyre entitled to our tax payers money and pay for nothing but when i left school in 1984 i had to work and pay my way and ive seen big changes over last 20yrs so i am glad new governement is doing what theyre doing as we know that there is more chancers than genuine disabled and they will suss them out at long last !!

    • squidgetsmum says:

      Irene. Please read the two stories I shared this week. These are the real faces of those you are dismissing.

    • Lee says:

      Irene you seem very bitter,The lady who wrote and shared the original article was just pointing out what her two year old had done,they don’t deserve the abuse that they are getting from people like you.A lot of us have had really difficult lives and I am sorry that you have had more than your fair share.Not all people who use food banks are as bad as you are making out.There is genuine need out there I have worked amongst it so don’t be angry You are entitilled to your opinion and she hers.Why do you feel you have to argue your point?Let the government sort out who is genuine and who is not that would be my advice to you.I commend the little boy who at a young age saw a need and acted with kindness.May he grow up to be a loving and caring adult as that is what our society needs.

      • Irene Wilson says:

        I am very bitter after having to hear on news about food poverty in Britain when i know a very different reason for our poverty due to drink/drugs, everyone seems to blame everyone else for their self inflicted problems, if you write a blog you cant expect everyone to agree with it and i speak from the heart as i grew up in poverty due to a drunk parent and parents who did not want to work !!!

  15. Irene Wilson says:

    i can only say what i have seen on a daily basis in my family and people i know, most people i know say the same how these spongers are taking everything they can and the media is saying how Britain is in poverty, some are in a self inflicted povery and they will always have a roof over their heads and benefits to help them get bye but loads of people think these benefits are life, ive tried to help people get jobs and they are not interested and its about time everyone took responsibility for their own lives and if they want to have big families they should expect our money to provide for them, i think you need to hear the other side of the coin from someone who has lived in this environment and seen how much money is wasted in our families and not being spent on essential items, if people want to donate then thats up to them but i have to say why i wont be donating as these people have more than i have and i have to pay for everything and i earn 11,000 a year and get no help at all and work hard and i am sick to the stomache of hearing sob stories about how hard these people have it .

    • squidgetsmum says:

      Well, as you said, we are all entitled to an opinion and I don’t think I’m going to change yours. I really do hope and pray something does though.

      • Irene Wilson says:

        Ive just seen a lot in life and a lot of people think they deserve everything and give nothing, my brother is genuinely disabled and hes had no problem with his benefit money because hes genuine and i dont mind that these people are helped from our money but when its people who are taking the crap out of us hard working people who work for minimum wage thats when i have a problem, all the things i have said are true about benefit cheats and there is thousands like that and something had to change to stop all these cheats, there is too much greed and crime because of drugs and if the government can get these people to work they might have respect and get clean, my dad was left to drink himself to death, if he had to work for his money he would have bucked up his ideas but he was loving it being drunk 24/7, i can definately say my opinion wont change, there is 150,000 registered addicts and we are all paying for them and the crime that they commit against us.

  16. Lee says:

    Just want to say to Squidgetsmum some of the comments you received were hurtful and uncalled for.I will pray for you and your little boy also for the people who made the unkind messages in response to your letter.We seem to be living in such a bitter and angry society where people can react to the act of love given by a small child.I have 6 children and they were bought up to believe in a God who loves them.This God says in His word The Bible do not judge.Well done for bringing up your little boy to care for others in all situations.Thank you.

  17. HappySoc says:

    I’m agnostic/atheist, so the religious stuff is completely lost on me, however think the sentiment is the same, and you have to love the innocence of right or wrong that is in a child’s heart when they are growing up, its up to us as adults to ensure that it is harnessed for when they’re older and not blown away with the difficulties of life

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  21. BolshyJock says:

    Irene, my mother was an alcoholic, but she also tried real hard and became a wonderful mother again. I doubt severely if most benefit claimants or food bank claimants are addicts of any kind. And if so, hey lets give them the benefit of the doubt and hope they are trying to change their life for the better. I’m not saying you are wrong, you have your own experiences, I’m saying life is happier when you don’t carry bitterness along with you, when you want the best for your fellow man/woman, and when you give what you can to the less fortunate. I am fortunate enough to be able to give to my local foodbank regularly and I trust the people running it that it goes to those in need. I would hate that if I were ever to need it that I would suffer from people judging me in my hour in need for me and my kids.

    • squidgetsmum says:

      thank you for putting that so much better than I could.

      • BolshyJock says:

        Your original post touched a nerve. I am passionate about helping those less fortunate, whilst I am able to do so. If someday I am in their position hopefully some kind stranger would do the same for me. I see no point worrying about the worthiness or fecklessness of the people receiving my aid, they are all people in need. If they are addicts or alcoholics then they are in need of more care, not less. Life can give us many knocks and make us cynical and hard, and me and my kids have more reasons than most to feel hard done to, after losing my wife/their mum at a young age, but that’s no way to live. Life is a journey and we’re all on it together.

      • irene says:

        I just think that food banks is not going to help these people make their lives better, its a temporary help for them and they need to be given help in budgeting money and made to live off the money they receive in benefits, too many are living well above their means, we all have to take control of our lives and not expect others to help, people need to stop blaming everyone else for their own money probs and take action, i live on a weekly budget and stick to it, ive gave up smoking and got rid of car after going through a break up, we have to help ourselves and live on the money we have, we are going through bad times and need to take it serious….

    • irene says:

      Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, my father never wanted to change and we had a life of hell, maybe some people can forgive but some people dont and life is not great for a lot of people, people need to take responsibility of their lives when they have kids or dont have them at all, i am only pointing out that its not the governments fault that these people squander there money on their addictions, theyve been helped for many years with benefits and things need to change and help these people into work to stop them wasting their lives on drink/drugs, its not helped them so far throwing money at them so this might be the kick they need to get a grip of their lives ..

  22. markthedoc says:

    Please do not feed the troll any more. Unfortunately Irene is choosing to be ignorant of the true state of affairs and we aren’t going to change the mind that is deliberately closed.

    • irene says:

      Excuse me !! are you saying i am a troll ??? you are all entitled to your own opinions but dont be so rude to people who have lived with addicts in family, and we are allowed to express our opinions on how we feel having to be brought up in that environment, if people put up a blog about the government failing the poor and having to resort to food banks i am entitled to say what ive known and seen, there is always 2 sides of the story !!! You donate your money to whatever you want but my opinion wont change, people hate to hear other peoples opinions but i cant agree with you on this……

  23. tastehitch says:

    Here, here. And well done, the values of the of the young reflect their upbringing more than anything. I hope I do as good a job.

  24. John Smeddings says:

    Irene, I find your heartless and unsympathetic words very sad and depressing.
    Not all of us on benefits are on drugs or alcohol, I’ve never taken an illegal drug in my life and the only ones I take are the ones my doctors prescribe. as for alcohol, I might have a beer once or twice a year, ie to celebrate christmas or a friends birthday but I never drink any other times. I was on ESA but an Atos medical declared I was fit to work, I am going through an appeal right now but while that is ongoing I have ZERO benefit to live on. is that fair? I am not a drunk or a druggie and yet I have to borrow money off my friends just to feed myself and pay my bills whilst the DWP have stopped my money for god knows how long.

    I know the government demonise us on benefits, but not all of us are scoungers or the like. I have asthma, a heart problem, MS, high blood pressure and can’t walk due to almost no blood circulation in my legs. Please don’t believe the governments propaganda, not all on benefits are like that..

  25. R. St Clair says:

    I think what you are saying here is lovely and very true. One thing though – the idea that only “hard working” people deserve food or help is upsetting. As it happens, there is plenty of evidence that we only need work 21 house a week to maintain our standard of living, and most employment is not only unnecessary but actively destructive to society and the environment. People who promote working hard just to make money or in irresponsible, immoral jobs are being very selfish creating a culture of long work hours, less time for important caring and family responsibilities and less time for health and happiness. Hard work is not a virtue – just a means to an end and in many cases it is a means to an immoral end.

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