Fri 29 May 2020: good news and localism

A while back I wrote about how busy the food bank I was working at was, and how this was a measure of poverty and should alarm us all. Well, in the month since there has been some very good news.

The last week or two have been quite a bit quieter, to the extent that after next week we’re cutting back our service from six days a week to three. At the peak we were helping around 210 households, up from around 40 in normal times. We’re now down to 120-ish. That will be made up of (approximately):

  • Those we were helping in normal times;
  • A few who are ill or are isolating because they think they might be ill;
  • People in the most vulnerable demographic who are still isolating in case they become ill;
  • The newly unemployed and under-employed.

We’re also no longer delivering all our food parcels, instead asking those who can to come and pick them up in person. That’s partly because it’s now safer for them to do that, but also because some of our volunteers are no longer blessed with copious free time – they’re going back to work – so we have a labour shortage.

Infection rates in London are now very low, far lower than in the rest of the country, so the group of people who are ill (or think they might be) is obviously going to be quite small. The group of vulnerable people still isolated will be relatively large, consisting mostly of elderly people, and will be fairly static or may be shrinking slightly as their family and friends are more able to help them. But the biggest change will be the number of people who are going back to work and so no longer have to suffer the indignity of asking for help. Another measure of that is the higher traffic levels on the streets. It’s no longer eerily quiet, and when I’m out and about doing food bank deliveries there are actually a few traffic jams! I never thought I’d be glad to be stuck in a traffic jam!

The infection rate being so low in London – half that of England as a whole – means that we need to start having regional variations in the various disease-related restrictions. London and the Midlands (the best two areas) can liberalise more than Yorkshire (which is now the filthiest plague-pit) while still keeping on top of things and so, importantly, can get back to generating wealth and paying taxes.