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Charity, Churches and Cheap Chips as Food for the Soul

Last year Graham Riches an emeritus professor from Canada expressed his dismay at an All Party Parliamentary group's report on Feeding Britain. The core strategy for dealing with the issue of food poverty is based on engaging church and charity with supermarket.

"Food banks have now arrived in the UK – a neoliberal dream come true. However, what is more outrageous is that Oxfam has bought into this country" . Emeritus professor Graham Riches Former director, School of Social Work, University of British Columbia

Once more I'd been reminded of what Wordsworth had written about an Old Cumberland Beggar

"Many, I believe, there are
Who live a life of virtuous decency,
Men who can hear the Decalogue and feel
No self-reproach; who of the moral law
Established in the land where they abide
Are strict observers; and not negligent
In acts of love to those with whom they dwell,
Their kindred, and the children of their blood.
Praise be to such, and to their slumbers peace!
--But of the poor man ask, the abject poor;
Go, and demand of him, if there be here
In this cold abstinence from evil deeds,
And these inevitable charities,
Wherewith to satisfy the human soul?
No--man is dear to man; the poorest poor
Long for some moments in a weary life
When they can know and feel that they have been,
Themselves, the fathers and the dealers-out
Of some small blessings; have been kind to such
As needed kindness, for this single cause,
That we have all of us one human heart."

How then can we empower others to be "the fathers and dealers out of small blessings"?

Like professor Riches, we believe in , which became the policy guide for our business  In 2004, it was seeded in the social enterprise community with a business plan to tackle poverty 

” Fifty percent of annual surplus will remain in each local community where income is derived, by way of deposit into a local community development bank serving that location. In that locales are part of EU and therefore subject to well-developed rule of law, corruption issues should not present insurmountable barriers such as in Crimea.

Fifty percent of surplus will be retained by P-CED for growth and expansion. Along the way, all employees of P-CED are to be paid at minimum a wage sufficient to guarantee a decent standard of living in accordance with the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The fundamental policy guide for P-CED is the International Bill of Human Rights. IBHR is comprised of Universal Declaration of Human Rights; International Covenant of Civil and Politial Rights, and International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. P-CED’s main focus falls within sphere the economic, social and cultural rights, ICESCR."


Surprisingly perhaps, a Living Wage policy seems to have been something both charity and social enterprise overlooked, as we may see in many examples of zero hours contracts and particularly the case of John McArthur, a social enterprise employee who protests at being expected to go without pay

Our founders protest fast for ICESR had taken place in North Carolina where this international covenant has not been ratified. It led to a commitment from the local senator John Edwards who establised a Center on Poverty Work and Opportunity on the campus at UNC in Chapel Hill.  

Walmart, the dominant food retailer has been a frequent target for the aggrieved poor of North Carolina and the Moral Monday initiative

Here in the UK we have people protesting for Asda, the UK subsiduary to be established in their neighbourhoods  They cannot be blamed for wanting cheaper food but as we all know, it comes by placing enormous pressure on their supply chain, who in turn cannot afford to pay living wages. A vicious cycle in the race to be top predator in the food chain. 

What if this was turned around, such that people came first?

As Tesco, who have resisted the call for a Living Wage may have realised, once they commit to paying their staff living wages, they'll be on the way to allowing their suppliers to pay their own a living wage. And so on. all the way to Rana Plaza.   

As Tolstoy understood, it's not about giving money away, but by creating an 'endless wave" among others. 

“Good consists not in the giving of money, it consists in the loving intercourse of men. This alone is needed. Whatever may be the outcome of this, any thing will be better than the present state of things. Then let the final act of our enumerators and directors be to distribute a hundred twenty-kopek pieces to those who have no food; and this will be not a little, not so much because the hungry will have food, because the directors and enumerators will conduct themselves in a humane manner towards a hundred poor people. How are we to compute the possible results which will accrue to the balance of public morality from the fact that, instead of the sentiments of irritation, anger, and envy which we arouse by reckoning the hungry, we shall awaken in a hundred instances a sentiment of good, which will be communicated to a second and a third, and an endless wave which will thus be set in motion and flow between men? And this is a great deal.”

, the fundamental predicate is that other people are not disposable. Above all

"Core focus is always on people and their needs, with neediest people having first priority – as contrasted with the eternal chase for financial profit and numbers where people, social benefit, and human well-being are often and routinely overlooked or ignored altogether."

The recurring theme is that other people matter as much as ourselves. An argument which has even be taken to tacking terrorism.