As Christmas draws ever closer, more and more families are relying on foodbank's as a way to help stay fed. The sad but stark reality is that no longer is it just the poorest in society that are struggling to cope, austerity is snapping at the heals of hard working families across Salford and the rest of the UK who are struggling to cope with forever escalating food prices and the general cost of living.
It seems no one aside the top earners are immune from poverty and for many families this Christmas they find themselves just a few steps away from spiralling down the rabbit hole.
Families will go hungry, many kids will not receive a present this year and New Year will no doubt be no better than the last for most.
The Tory government declared that the bleak years of austerity are over in the last budget but has anything really changed for the average Salfordian? If the austere years are now behind us as we are told then why are so many people still reliant on the generosity of others this year? Why are the numbers flocking to Salford's beleaguered Foodbank's expected to increase again over previous years this festive period?
Sickeningly, in the news recently was another in a long line of stories about tax dodging comapnies avoiding paying their dues, this time Netflix having paid just £1.12m tax on earnings of over £800m in the UK, a paltry amount of tax by any standards. They are not alone though as they are in the same club as other tax avoiding companies like Google, Amazon, Apple and well... the list goes on and on and on...
Those taxes are what SHOULD be contributed towards maintaining our public services but it seems glaringly obvious that for some, taxes are optional and only a token amount is paid as they use inventive ways to avoid putting their hands in their pockets to pay their dues.
This leads to a society in which multi billion pound companies exist alongside people with not a penny to their name. The distribution of wealth is out of balance and this is what fuels the counties ill's. Eventually there will be nothing for these companies to make money from as people will have nothing left to pay for their services.
Unfair wages, short term contracts and job insecurity are harming our society far more than the powers that be would like to admit.
It is fair to say that we have always had a society with an unfair scale of wealth to some degree. The class system has always favoured the rich at the top of the ladder and as we head further down the rungs the levels of wealth decrease BUT now we are are seeing the distance between those rungs is changing, the gap between the scales of wealth is increasing and classes which were previously seen as immune are increasingly finding it hard to live.
It is now starting to affect far more people and those people are now getting to a point where they are becoming sick and tired of excuses.
Austerity has bitten us far worse than we could have imagined and that devastating impact is now becoming far more obvious to all. No longer is it just those on low incomes and benefits affected, the spectre of austerity has crept through society and so for many this Christmas it will not be a happy one, there will be no Christmas cheer.
Most foodbank's are at breaking point at the best of times, they struggle to cope with demand during most of the year and so when that demand increases in the festive period it is left to the rest of society to pitch in and help alleviate the load. The government may hate to admit it but foodbank's have become common place and the modern day soup kitchens of the past.
Without them many will go hungry and as sad as it is to see them needed, they are most certainly needed more than ever.
The reality is in a society supposedly that is so rich and prosperous as our strong and stable government tell us, they simply should not have to exist at all, there should be no need for them.
For many it is a good job they do but they are reliant on the generosity of others and most if not all receive zero funding from government sources. As in the days of old, it has become society feeding society as the government looks on.
But hey, austerity is over right? To quote a cheesy pop song once loved by Tony Blair, things can only get better right?
Well things are being made slightly better by people not government, it is thanks mainly to local companies donating food, local people giving what little they can, individuals like the amazing whirlwind that is Natalie Jane Lek and the Launch Project who are set to bring smiles to faces and food to bellies by cooking a thousand meals for those most in need this Christmas. The likes of Dawne and Co over at the Joint Veterans Alliance and Coffee for Craig etc... all of whom will be out on the streets feeding the homeless and trying to get as many as they can into shelter over the cold winter months ahead. The likes of the Trussell Trust and Salford's foodbank's who will be put under huge pressures to make every dwindling resources stretch to an ever increasing amount of people once more.
More should be done at a government level as well as at a local government level but alas it is as usual left to the public to take up the slack and provide for our own.
I would like to think this is just a UK thing but it is happening all across the EU and beyond. Only this weekend we saw France put troops on the streets to try and stop protests over crippling fuel taxes that have seen violence and rioting on the streets of its capital.
Unless something is done right now, in the not too distance future there will come a breaking point in the UK and similar scenes will play out here. Something all of us would like to avoid seeing again.
So if you can, if you are able, please donate a few cans or packets of food to your local foodbank, help fund local charities and groups like those mentioned above. In Salford we look after our own, we help each other, so this Christmas help spread a little festive cheer to those who would otherwise struggle, take some of the load off them to allow them to have a few days without worry.