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Fun, food and festivity

I dropped by our local community festival at the weekend. Cancelled last year, it was revived this year with craft, food and local community organisations’ stalls spread across three sites, and featured a parade, mainly comprised of scouts and guides, brownies and beavers, walking behind the British Legion marching band, that blocked the main shopping street. This year the parade also featured a group of freemasons in their ceremonial aprons, a group of bikers on huge Triumph motorcycles, three Morris women rather forlornly waving their handkerchiefs, and a large army truck with attendant soldiers toting machine guns. I found it an eclectic mix.


I’m afraid I decamped quite quickly to the street food quarter and enjoyed an Indonesian meal of barbecued crispy chicken skewers, egg-fried rice, curry saucy and pineapple salad. It was scrummy but weighed a bit heavy as I set off uphill to walk home.


Why am I telling you all this? Well because I met, by chance, a former colleague who used to work for our Connexional safeguarding team who is now the Director of the local foodbank which hosts six distribution sites across our borough. With his team he was running a stall, so after asking me if I’d like to guess the number of baked beans in a large glass jar, we got to talking about universal credit, and the growing need in our community which belies it’s more affluent image. Amongst all the fun, food and festivity of the day it was easy to forget how some families and individuals are suffering, having to make hard choices and suddenly, it probably seems, soon having to pay more for their energy. One consequence will likely be that more children may be neglected and some adults will neglect themselves.


This is the season for Harvest Festivals, and increasingly churches are being asked if they can supply particular items for beneficiaries of food banks, which has in some cases signalled the end of the overflowing, colourful and aromatic displays of home grown produce that I recall from my childhood and younger adult years. Our churches are now generally good at collecting tinned and dry food, cleaning products and personal care items, but we will probably not meet those who are then offered them. So they can still remain hidden to a large extent. Our challenge is to make sure that we stay alert to the needs of those, especially in our local church communities, who may not be taking good care. They should not remain hidden from our view.

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