Thursday, 11 May 2017

Labour Party General Election 2017 Why should you vote?

This is why we cannot afford not to vote in this General Election

The London Economic
By Ray Barron Woolford
Four years ago, I saw four young men going through the bins on the estate by my office, looking for food. I was staggered to discover that they all had jobs, but had only just started work and had to wait 5 weeks for their first pay cheques. After being on benefits for some time, these young men had got off their backsides and secured work, yet the state was refusing to help out in the period between the stoppage of benefits and the first pay packet.
Four years on, I found myself running the UK’s largest Independent food bank, feeding thousands, just two miles from the City of London. I saw increasing numbers of  students with loans that had not arrived; workers whose high rent increases pushed them into poverty ; staggering numbers of people on zero hour contracts and some  people working three jobs which were so badly paid they needed the food bank. In addition, there were pensioners who had worked every hour God sends from the age of 14 and yet, in old age, found themselves queuing at a food bank, too ashamed and proud to tell members of their own family that the Food Bank and poverty was something they never knew that they would have to endure.
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In Tory Britain, the rise of the food bank and debt is the fastest growing sector for business opportunities, even offering options for people to buy, for £1,500, their own food bank franchise. The Government no longer sees this a badge of shame or failure – it refers to it as the Third Sector.
The scale of the ignorance and bigotry around Food Bank users led me to write my best-selling book Food Bank Britain and yet many food bank users do not vote and many are not even registered to vote. After years and (even in the case of some Labour-held Councils) decades, of both main political parties failing to address the rise of inequality, low pay and poverty, many feel as if the Councils have failed them and think that the Government will do likewise. “They are all the same” is the mantra… and for years I would have agreed, but this was before Brexit and before Jeremy Corbyn, who being new to the job, has been unable to insure a new generation of politicians are elected who share his values and his policy agenda.
In short, Jeremy Corbyn is like no one in our life time before. He may have a poor media profile, but this is not reflected on the streets, in the huge numbers who attend his appearances, or by the 70 per cent of public polled who continue to like Labour policies. Yet far too many, as many as 49 per cent of you, say you are still undecided and may not vote.
No one using my food bank ever thought they would need it. The 300 disabled people a week fighting the Government in the courts to protect their disability payments never foresaw this predicament. 300 is the maximum number of people the Courts can process in a week. Hospitals never expected to be setting up their own food banks to feed their own staff ,such as nurses ,and no- one, including me, expected the boss of the Hampshire Police Federation to state that police officers are being given food bank vouchers. But should we be surprised?
Elections, they say, are lost by Governments and won by opposition. The UK food banks fed over three million households in 2016. Two million people had all their benefits stopped due to sanctions. Seven million people with disability wake up each day, wondering if this will be the day they get the letter confirming their disability benefits will be taken away, whilst three million EU workers in the UK and two million Brits living in the EU greet each day in a state of uncertainty, due to the Brexit vote; a vote this Government called without any need to face deportation.
Our NHS, schools, Social Care, prisons, housing and homeless are in crisis or chaos, depending on which headline you read. The Government has failed on every target it has set and I have yet to meet a single person who can name a public service under this Government NOT in crisis, whilst debt runs on an unprecedented scale.
The National Health Action party is standing against Conservative MP Jeremy Hunt on a platform to save the NHS. In Hastings, Mr Ethical, a whistleblower who spent ten years exposing bank fraud and securing a £4 million pay-back for customers, is standing on an anti banking-fraud agenda. In Brighton, many political parties are standing aside to support Westminster’s only Green MP, Caroline Lucas, in her bid to retain her seat, Whilst in Lewisham, a 70 year-old pensioner is  standing, with the backing of Millwall Football supporters,on an anti -corruption, anti-gentrification ticket, which if she loses would see her evicted from her home by a Labour Council . So, you see, being undecided or not voting this Election is not really an option.
Jeremy Corbyn, and his supporters in more localised areas, are standing on issues that could directly affect you: access to health care, housing, education, security in work for you and your kids and an end to sanctions and cuts to the  provision for the disabled; issues that ,in a blink of an eye, could claim you as their victims. I have never voted Labour at a General election, feeling, like many, the Party of the past was little different from the Tories. But, for the first time in my life, I will cast my vote for Labour, as the Party, not just Jeremy Corbyn alone, offers policies that will tackle inequality; replace hope where the Tories have created fear; and deliver a society  which will take us back in time to a period when we all took pride in looking after each other, being good neighbours and  decent human beings.
I hope I have encouraged you to be clear and to VOTE. I hope you will help me to close the food banks in the UK, because the cause will be no longer an issue. Never before, and probably never again, will you have the option to vote for a party that truly, under Jeremy Corbyn, will deliver for the 99 per cent and not the few. Am I bothered you may not vote..? You bet!

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Southwark Council top 40 staff earn over £100,000 a year.

This is my live TV News interview responding to the fact , Council top workers are earning over £100,000 a year for cuts and austerity..Its not on.

Please spread this interview across your social networks

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Bakerloo Line extension and impact on New cross and Deptford , #Lewisham

Bakerloo line extension and its impact on jobs in New Cross and #Deptford
I have just attended Transport For London consultation on the tube line extension and slightly agog i seem to be the only one that has noticed the plans for a new, New Cross Gate station , that will lead to the demolition of all shops on the commercial site including Sainsburys, and more importantly the loss of hundreds of jobs that many local young people and woman with children , depends upon in part due to the flexible working hours, therefore the loss of these jobs would be devasting to local families in the area and off course the substantial loss of business rates these commercial units presently pay.
Many of you maybe aware of the location will note on the right of the station is a substantial land area which in my view would work better as a station site as would improve disability access and would be far better for families with buggies etc..the other real area of concern will be the loss of yet another petrol station, in the real world most people at some point need transport other than a bike and with the petrol station going on Evelyn street as part of the wider Timberyard development , The deadline to express your concern is this coming 21 April .

email post Freepost ( no stamp needed ) TFL Consultations
or call them on 0343 222 1155 .
I will be raising this at the next Lewisham People Before Profit meeting to get as much all party support as possible.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

My Criminalisation of the Hungry campaign gets a lift in The Canary

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request has revealed that police prosecuted more than 2,800 people for stealing food in London alone. But these hungry people weren’t shoplifters. Most were branded criminals for taking waste food from supermarket bins.

Criminalising hunger

Campaigner and author Ray Woolford asked for an FOI from the Metropolitan Police. It showed that the police gave 2,823 people “a charge or summons where food property was stolen”. Penalties range from jailing people for up to two weeks to a £150 fine. And some London boroughs appear to treat hungry people more criminally than others.
Hounslow charged the most people, with 147 individuals prosecuted. Barking and Dagenham, Bromley, Croydon, Ealing, Islington and Lambeth all criminalised over 100 people for food theft, while Kingston Upon Thames had the fewest at 36.
Woolford believes that police charged many of these people for taking waste food from supermarket bins. He told The Canary:
It costs supermarkets a fortune to store and transport food to landfill. That then costs a further £40 a tonne to dump. In 2017, we must have a better system in place about dealing and addressing the scandals of waste food. Is it civilised to be jailing and criminalising the hungry, many of whom may be homeless or have had their benefits sanctioned?

Waste food

Supermarkets throw away over 300,000 tonnes of food each year. But families add seven million tonnes to that figure. Meaning, on average, each family chucks out £450 of food each year. Meanwhile, over half a million people are reliant on just one food bank charity, the Trussell Trust. So the actual number of people having to get emergency food supplies each year is probably much higher. And London’s homeless population has more than doubled since 2010.

Tory Britain

Woolford said:
Can we in the present economic climate afford to drag these people though the expensive court and legal system? And then [lock] them up in our over crowded jails? While fining them £150 which, if they had had in [the] first place, [they] would have no need to root through dustbins to eat… Who’s the criminal here? Under the Tories we have been taken back to the 1930s.
The figures for food theft are just for London. Which means there could be a larger problem across the country.
This year, the government will have found money to save corporations £9bn in tax. Yet they are unable to find the money to help people struggling to eat. Something is very, very wrong in the UK.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Prison Population growth on back of Hungry stealing 2 eat.

My campaign to stop criminalisation against the hungry gets the support of my local press.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

"Poverty's the illness no-one wants to talk about"

This a short cut of my Interview.. Please support my work by buying my book Food Bank Britain.. on sale from all book sellers on and off line