If you’ve been paying close attention to the worlds of politics, economics and horrific injustices, or if you’ve just been attempting to live in this country at this point in time under this particular government, you’ll have heard about this recession/depression/excuse to impose ideologically-driven cuts to services. The austerity programme that’s designed to turn the economy around while coincidentally satisfying many of the Tories’ ambitions on class warfare has seen some tremendous successes. Not economically, obviously – it’s a disaster by about every measure imaginable – but in screwing over poor people, vital services and basic hope. In our previous times together we’ve ranted about welfare cuts and how they’ll screw people, the bedroom tax and the little sense it makes and the rise of payday loans and the obvious exploitation they represent. For as long as there’s misery knocking about the rants will keep on coming.

Austerity isn’t working. Obviously it isn’t working. If it were working we’d see at least some sign of it working. What we’re seeing instead is sign after sign of it not working, and quote after quote from Cameron and Osborne saying they’ll stay the course as if we’re supposed to admire their stubbornness in the face of failure. This is two rich, privileged people screwing over the poor either because they want to or because they’re too afraid of saying “Oops”.

While the economy continues to do very little in the way of improving, one sector at least is thriving: food banks. This is what we’re resorting to to counter this assault on the poor. In Her Majesty’s United Kingdom of Great Britain and the British Isles and London, in one of the richest countries in the known world, in the age of iPads and botox, we have people begging at food banks to avoid starving to death or stealing to live. The Trussell Trust, which knows about these kinds of things, reckons there’s been a 76% rise in the number of food banks in the last year and a 170% rise in the numbers of people using them. They’re talking 346,992 people in the last year, just over a third of them children. Figures from 2009-10, from back before this government took over and started tearing strips off welfare, were at 40,898. That’s about a 750% increase in the lifetime of this government, this government that’s staying the course.

We should be ashamed of this. We should be ashamed we’re having to resort to this. We should be so angry about this we should be suffering losses of tens of millions of people to rage-related head explosions. We should be so embarrassed our collective blush should make the planets revolve around us thinking maybe we’re a new sun. And somewhere in there we should be maybe half proud people are putting these things together. Trussell, which likes a bit of Jesus but plays it down enough so’s you’d hardly know, reckons 30,000 donors and volunteers are helping out across the country, giving more than 3,400 tonnes of food last year. This is people seeing their communities struggling, pitching in as if poor people are fellow humans in need of a hand. It’s a decent thing they’re doing, even if it’s a lousy thing they’re being decent about, even if their decency shouldn’t be called on. And if Cameron tries to pass this off as The Big Society I’ll kick him square in the cock.

There’s a food bank opened up near us now, a couple minutes walk from social work. We had an email telling us how to use it when service users pitch up saying they’ve got no food for their children and no money to buy any. It’s getting harder to give them money now, with budgets getting tighter and destitution more in fashion thanks to the likes of the bedroom tax. Instead of getting money they’ll go to a needle exchange and ask for cans of beans so they don’t go hungry. It’s a new humiliation for people probably used to being humiliated.

Lousy as it is, it’s the Chazza of the Month. A few quid from me should buy a few cans of stuff; all non-perishable, though it won’t be lying around long. I’ll get a few cans of beans, a few cans of soup, maybe some pasta and some long-life milk. All veggie stuff, obviously. Shitty as this is I’m not above using it for a bit of social engineering.

Photo credit: Amalus at DeviantArt