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The head of Sheerness-based Family Food Bank has hit out against negative comments made by former MP Edwina Currie

08 February 2014
by Lewis Dyson

The former Conservative cabinet member for health controversially criticised organisations like the Sheerness-based Family Food Bank last week in a blog for The Spectator.

She claimed the growing number of them around the country was “being used as a stick to beat the government, often by well-meaning groups who want to ‘do something’ to help”.

Chris Norman at the Family Food Bank in Sheerness

Chris Norman at the Family Food Bank in Sheerness

She added: “In reality, they may be perpetuating the problems that brought people to their doorstep in the first place.”

Chris Norman is co-ordinator for Family Food Bank which distributes free goods to families on Sheppey and in Sittingbourne, Faversham and Maidstone.

Hitting out at the comments, he said: “Unlike people like Edwina Currie, who view these issues from afar, we are working at the sharp end and we know the reality. We know the real picture.

“The difficulty we have is that there has been a huge recession out there that wasn’t created in Sheerness, but it is people in communities like Sheerness that seem to be suffering more.

He went on to say that a lot of the work carried out by his team of volunteers involves signposting families to the right places so they can help themselves out of poverty.

Mr Norman, based at Seashells Children and Families Centre, also rubbished Ms Currie’s claims that some users of food banks are not in need.

He said the vast majority of people he comes into contact with have been referred by social services and other agencies and they limit also the number of times people can access the supply.

Mr Norman added: “Nobody wants to access a food bank service. People are deeply embarrassed about having to approach us about charitable aid.

“We need to create jobs, build better housing and invest in communities.

“Governments can address these problems and, frankly, that’s the role of politicians and people like Edwina Currie.

“At food banks we just address the local symptoms of those problems.”

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