Since retiring from full- time practice in London, I have been involved in several local charities, served as a Town Councillor, and Chairman of the Residents Association. I have been Chairman of Trustees of Tenterden Social Hub for the past 4 years.
The current pandemic has created a number of challenges. Our members, who usually attend the Hub for the day, now require support at home. It is much more difficult to provide a domiciliary service in a rural area. There is no fall back for the elderly and disabled who do not need nursing care. In addition a number of new groups now need our support- those with medical conditions needing long term isolation, the elderly advised to stay at home, families whose children normally receive free school meals and those who require food from the Food Bank, who are self-isolating or have no transport. This situation exposes many accepted practices, such as zero-hour contracts. Such workers have no support from their employers, and no work, no pay and no savings rapidly translates into no food for the family. Furthermore, in this crisis, charitable fundraising events have all been cancelled (I was due to abseil off an office block 2 weeks ago), and charity shops have had to close. Whilst trying to arrange shopping for some of the above (intended to be for essentials), there is a huge disconnect between what people want and what they need. This brings me back to the beginning- as a child, although never deprived, food was regarded as something you were lucky to have, nothing was wasted after years of rationing, and snacking didn’t exist. I support everything that Nutritank is doing to educate people with regard to nutrition. It may be that a positive from the current crisis is a reappraisal of our attitude to food- it’s long overdue. Happily, supermarkets are donating food that would otherwise be dumped for distribution. The absurd idea that one should not buy wonky carrots or potatoes or buy out of season fruit flown halfway round the world, needs to enter the dustbin of history. As one who survived 8 years at boarding school and to date 45 years of hospital food, I am a testament to adequate nutrition!