Archive for April, 2014

As I’ve said before, food banks and food poverty among great affluence are one of the defining features of this recession. In Norwich, a couple of people, Karen and Dale, come in every Tuesday and Saturday from Dereham to give out hot meals they’ve prepared. I put together a short report for BBC Norfolk on their work. The programme is no longer available on Iplayer, but I wrote this short piece a few weeks earlier on a different night:


A cold wind was blowing through the town centre. It was already dark, and a coat and jumper weren’t enough to feel warm.

The rush had come and gone. In 5 minutes flat, forty hot meals had been given out by the Peoples’ Picnic – a small group of people who decided to take action on hunger in Norfolk.

Founders Karen and Dale come to Norwich from Dereham every other Tuesday and Saturday night. Starting with sandwiches, they moved onto to giving out hot meals prepared at home and transported by a friend.

From a stall in the old Haymarket Karen, Dale, and a couple of local volunteers dish out casserole, pairs of warm socks, and advice. The idea, explains Dale, is for for “communities to come together to help out those in need”.

There was a youngish man who had just been released from prison. He’d had little help in finding somewhere to move to, and had been crashing with a friend who had some spare rooms. Unfortunately, the friend’s house was full for the next few nights so he would have to spend a few nights outside.

An elderly man came over to talk to me. He was polite, and had a wry sense of humour. I explained that I was a writer and he told me, “You could ask for my autograph, but it would be too expensive.”

A lot of the talk was about a story in the local paper. There had been an inquest into the suicide of a man. Karen and Dale recognised him from the photo – he had been here a few times. Talk moved on to another man, a regular, who had also killed himself.

Karen explained that they see people who are in work. Sanctions, and benefit cuts are the biggest reasons they are seeing people, “The food poverty we have in this country is shocking.”

The Peoples’ Picnic has already see a big increase in elderly people coming to see them over the winter since they started doing hot meals.

As Karen and Dale closed up the stall after nearly an hour of informal counselling, the people moved on to a nearby Salvation Army soup kitchen. Karen added, “It’s about knowing people, because they are actually our friends. That’s how we think of them.”

Find out more about the Peoples’ Picnic.



In 1999 is was declared that child poverty in the UK could be eliminated by 2020. A binding legal target was set to reduce and ultimately end child poverty. However, now more children in UK rely on food aid than ever before. What happened?

Read the full article here.