Poverty in Paulton

Poverty in Paulton
When you hear mention of poverty - I wonder what comes to mind? Perhaps its one of the heart rending pictures we see on the TV of an emaciated East African farmer whose crop has failed, or a family fleeing from the Syrian conflict with nothing but what they can carry. This certainly is poverty - and we all know that poverty is a huge and widespread global problem, which brings misery to millions. What may not be so easy to believe is there may be serious poverty next door to you in this village.
The rising costs of living, the loss of a job, a period of illness, a cutback in state benefit may be all it takes to move an individual or a family from ‘money is tight’, to ‘we can’t afford to eat’.
Poverty in this country is often well-hidden, as people feel a great sense of shame when they are in this situation. You may find it hard to imagine that there is anyone in our village who literally doesn’t know where the next meal is coming from, but my experience , and that of my Baptist and Methodist colleagues tell me that is how it is, here in Paulton in 2013.
Part of the difficulty for us is simply believing that this can be true – not in some inner city estate – but in our attractive country village. But poverty is a reality here and in many parts of our country – and not only in those places that everyone would recognise as poor communities.
It’s a shocking situation, which we have not seen in this country since the war years – but it is unlikely to go away in a hurry. If you are in a position to help someone you know directly, I am sure that you don’t need my encouragement. However, if you would like to help someone in desperate circumstances but don’t know how, you might be interested to know about Somer Valley Food Bank.
A recent local initiative from the churches, the Somer Valley Food Bank, is run by local volunteers with guidance and support from a national charity the Trussel Trust. It is designed to help a person or family with a parcel of basic food for four days – enough to last until the benefit or the pay check comes in. This now been running for a month, has beginning with distribution centres in Peasedown St John, Midsomer Norton and Radstock. The hope is that when these first operations are settled in , we will be able to open a distribution for one morning a week in our own village. In the meantime, if you wish to donate either food or money, or some spare time to volunteer at the food bank, please visit the St J’s group website – and follow the link to Somer Valley Food Bank
For a wider perspective on poverty in the UK – visit the Trussell Trust and Churches Action on Poverty websites:
Guy Edwards Holy Trinity Church – 1st February 2013