Image Credit : Roxana Gonzalez at

It’s one thing to read about poverty and quite another to see it up close. As a journalist I’ve lost count of the number of articles I’ve written about families suffering under the government’s austerity measures. But nothing I’ve covered has stayed with me like the conversation I had with a little boy at a food bank just before Christmas.

While families waited to collect their emergency food parcels from a small room at the Emmanuel Church in Northampton, they were offered fresh pastries or cakes – little treats that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. It’s at this point that I usually met the children of the users who’d turned to food bank for help. Their eyes lit up when they saw all the sticky buns and sugary doughnuts.

Bobby (not his real name), who looked around five, came along with his mum and younger sister. As a couple of sausage rolls were bagged up for them to take home, he leaned towards me and asked: “Do you have any turkey please so we can have a Christmas dinner?”

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. It’s not just the horror of a child being hungry and needing to rely on charity handouts. It’s that a little boy had already worked out that his family were a little bit different from everyone else’s. He knew most people would be sitting down to a feast of turkey, potatoes and veg on Christmas Day and he probably wouldn’t.

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published: 2 January 2019

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