Thursday, 27 April 2017

Urgent appeal as Sufra Food Bank demand rockets as a consequence of new benefit cuts

Mohammed S Mamdani, Director of Sufra NW London, writes a lively Newsletter to supporters of the food bank and food growing project. His personal message is often humorous but beneath the humour lies anger at the injustice he sees through his work at Sufra.

Here is his latest message:

 Forgive my sarcasm, but I can just imagine the Department for Work & Pensions’ delight, three weeks into the latest round of benefit cuts. Cuts that will save mere pennies in the big scheme of things and penalise thousands of children with a life of poverty.

So what's it all about this time round? Until recently low-income families have received child tax credits to support the upbringing of a new generation. Now that we’re chucking out EU migrants, we desperately need to start reproducing so that we have a home-grown crop of economically active workers to pay for the social care of our elderly folk.

However, as of 6 April, families will only receive tax credits for their first 2 children, with no regard for any additional children in the family. It's a kind of state-sponsored baby sanction! The only consolation is that victims of rape will be entitled to additional tax credits - but you’re going to have to prove it!

I can just hear you sniggering. Most rape victims can hardly fathom reporting their violation to the police. Now you've got to tell the random dude who sits in the job centre too.

It's a double whammy since Her Majesty has also cut widows allowance (and the accompanying payments to a child who has suffered the bereavement of a parent). So, when your darling suffers a heart attack and drops down dead, don't grieve for too long. Wipe away those tears and be in work by Monday morning.

But why should British tax-payers pay for the upkeep of other people’s children?

Because children who grow up in poverty perform less well in school and have a lower life expectancy than their peers. And with the NHS crisis and a new funding formula for schools that will result in teacher redundancies, it will end up costing the nation more to deal with in the long-term.

Let’s not forget that hundreds of thousands of WORKING families rely on child tax credits. Parents who slog day and night, often in service industries or low skilled work. With almost all their wages covering the rent, child tax credits put food on the table.

And why are we subsidising working parents? So that we can continue to enjoy cheap take-outs, cheap clothing and cheap entertainment. Since we won’t pay more for goods and services, employers refuse to pay a sustainable, living wage. It is impossible to support a family, whilst earning the minimum wage (which equates to an annual income of £13,650). We’re paying for other people’s children, because we’re screwing them over in the work-place.  

I accept that some parents are ‘irresponsible’ in their life-style choices (they are far fewer than the tabloids would make us believe). But why should we punish their children?

OK, I’ve got that off my chest now.


As you can imagine, demand at the Food Bank has skyrocketed. Looking around our storage facility, all you see are empty shelves. We’re surviving from one week to another.

I have no shame in dropping to my knees and begging you for your generous food donations. We need practically everything: long-life milk, tea (we’ve never been short on tea before!), biscuits, juice, rice, jam, cereal, instant noodles, soup, tinned fish, fruit and vegetables, toiletries, nappies… you get the drift.

The only items WE DON’T NEED are pasta (but yes to pasta sauce), baked beans and tinned chick peas.

If you can’t be bothered to head down to Lidl, like me, you can place an online order for delivery to us, or make a donation here towards our food budget. We promise that any donation made on this page will be restricted to food bank supplies. No admin costs.


We’ve scheduled two emergency food collections at local supermarkets, but we need volunteers who can help for a few hours on the day to distribute ‘shopping lists’ to guests, smile profusely and guilt them into making a food donation at the end of their shop.

Saturday/Sunday 13/14 May 2017
Sainsbury’s Willesden Green – Register here.

Saturday/Sunday 20/21 May 2017
Waitrose Brent Cross – Register here.

Fahim and Saba, who will oversee the collections, will be working across two weekends. That’s 19 days in a row without a day off. So please pity them, and help out.

Also, our youth volunteers, who normally assist with our supermarket collections, are all revising for exams, so it’s time for the oldies to step up.


To mark Ramadan, we would like to invite members of the community to an interfaith ‘food-waste’ iftar (the fast-breaking meal at sunset) at Sufra NW London on Saturday 2 June from 8:00pm.

The event will be an opportunity to see our work first hand, and celebrate our strong relationship with all of North-West London’s faith communities who sustain the food bank operation. Faith leaders from all denominations will also share their faith-inspired, ethical perspectives on food waste.

The event will conclude with a meal prepared entirely from food waste! And it’s free to attend. You can register here.


We need to borrow a cement mixer for a couple of weeks on the garden, so if you have one handy (like we all do), please get in touch.


  1. Thanks for this, Martin.

    I am amazed at the difference in 'accountability' between organisations known as 'charities' and their relationships with government policy implementation.

    Remember the furoré that was raised a few years ago by Oxfam's 'Perfect Storm' social media campaign?

    I was reminded of that this week when viewing the home page of a 'charity' that is driving forward the needs for people to use food banks. At the foot of the home page of ReformUK appear quotations in rotation such as "The leading think tank on public service reform." — Theresa May MP, Prime Minister.

    Above those quotations, also in rotation with a recruiting ad for a Research Manager, is a statement reading, "As a charity, Reform will not be publishing or tweeting anything until after the general election."

    I would argue that in citing such plaudits, that 'charity'-cum-'think tank' is supporting what the sayer advocates, and the Reform website shows that it talks more to industry heads that stand to gain from the privatisation of the welfare state and intensification of the 'workfare state' that Universal Credit brings in.

    By contrast, Trussell Trust, a charity that deals with people impacted by what this government and Reform UK describe as 'a welfare state that works for all' has produced a report in the run up to this General Election that is at least critical of the government hype. As the Guardian reports:

    "The Trussell Trust, the UK’s largest food bank network, announced that it provided 1,182,954 three-day emergency food parcels to people in crisis in 2016-17, up 6.4% on the previous year’s total of 1,109,000.

    "In areas where the full universal credit rollout has taken place, food bank referral rates were running at more than double the national average.

    "The trust said the standard six-week-plus waiting time for a first benefit payment faced by new universal credit claimants was behind the rise in demand for charity food. As well as reliance on food banks, benefit delays had also led to common adverse effects such as debt, mental illness, rent arrears and eviction, the trust said.

    "The trust called for an immediate reduction in the minimum six-week wait for a first payment, saying debt and uncertainty caused by being without income was a source of stress and anxiety for many clients, and had led some to lose their homes...."
    Food banks report record demand amid universal credit chaos

    What was written in the Euripides play adapted by Jean-Paul Sartre, 'The Trojan Women' as, "Those who give the order seldom see the mess it makes," should perhaps be re-written as, "Those who cook up the clever schemes remain unaccountable for the implementation of those schemes."

    What would the Charity Commisoners have to say about that?

    Dude Swheatie of Kwug

  2. The satire continues as Gideon Osborne's Maoist Autumn 2015 budget finally gets applied. Yep, it's sick that babies get to suffer because of their family finances. However, the Child Tax Credit shtick is MOSTLY futurologist badmouthing.of Universal Credit claimants. You can stay on Income Support as a single parent. Just don't declare your relationships. UC isn't about simplified access to benefits;it's about controlling tax data.

    1. Makes me wonder what is the point of the NSPCC if it does not act against governmental inhumanity to children.

      See also Taxpayers Against Poverty website references to low birth weight.

      Alan Wheatley