SVP disputes Edwina Currie’s comments on food banks

The St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP) has countered Edwina Currie’s criticism of food banks by arguing that they are sometimes a necessary step on the journey to longer term solutions for people suffering from poverty.

The former Conservative MP  from 1982-1997,  who served as junior food minister for two years, (she resigned over salmonella in eggs)  argued on the BBC Daily Politics programme that food banks could be considered as counterproductive in meeting the complex needs of the poor.

Elizabeth Palmer, the Chief Executive of the St Vincent de Paul Society which has over 10,000 volunteers giving one million hours of voluntary assistance to those in need, said: “The St Vincent de Paul Society organises several Food Banks in its own name and SVP members also volunteer at food banks run by other charitable organisations. In general, food bank clients are referred by third parties who have identified a genuine need and food is provided to those who are in a crisis situation.

“Furthermore, in keeping with our mission, SVP volunteers would be keen to befriend those who attend the food bank and when invited, visit them in their own homes with a view to helping them address the circumstances which have led to their visit. The SVP is also able to call on internal expertise such as its debt advice team, where there are underlying issues of this nature. Addressing the immediate need is a necessary measure in the journey to providing a longer term solution, and neither one approach devalues the other.”

This month SVP was awarded a Big Society Award as the Prime Minister recognised the outstanding work of the society in helping some of the neediest people in England and Wales for over 170 years.

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