Last Tuesday, I visited the Salisbury Pantry, a membership initiative run by Salisbury City Council to provide affordable and nutritious food to local residents who are struggling to pay bills.
The Pantry is open each Tuesday from 10am, yet I often see the queues begin before 8am when I am doing the nursery run.
When I visited at 1pm, three hours after opening, the shelves were looking thin. It’s unacceptable that people in Salisbury need the support of such a scheme to afford basics: bread, fresh produce, cereal. It is heartbreaking to see baby formula on the shelves, knowing there are parents worrying about how they will feed their babies.
Many households in our community and across the country are struggling to cope with rising food and energy prices and turning to initiatives such as the Pantry to make ends meet. It has reached the point where the Trussell Trust has declared an emergency: for the first time ever they are now giving out more food than is being donated.
And while families struggle to buy school shoes, struggle to pay bills, and worry about the impending increase in their mortgage, the latest iteration of Conservative government (at the time of writing) saw fit to remove the cap on bankers’ bonuses and scrap the 45p tax rate for top earners – before u-turning (again).
The ideological fanaticism of Liz Truss to free market economics sent our economy into a tail-spin, with long-term and direct consequences for households in Salisbury, south Wiltshire and beyond.
One would have thought that such a catastrophe would focus Conservative MPs on finding a way to pull the economy out of this appalling nose dive. Instead, their solution is to downgrade the Cost of Living Crisis to a ‘Cost of Living Challenge’ and tell people that the next iteration of a budget, originally due to be published on October 31, will be delayed by another Conservative leadership contest.
How is it right in the 21st century that a tiny cabal of Tory party MPs and members – the same people who just months ago thought Liz Truss was the person for the job – will yet again decide on who leads the country?
While families and households across Salisbury and south Wiltshire wait to see who is going to have their turn next at running the country, I urge you to join me in donating to Salisbury Foodbank, to ensure that everyone in our town has the food they need.
At the same time, I urge you to push for a change of government, so that food banks become a thing of the past, not a vital part of our present.