On Christmas Day 2011, I sat on my sofa by myself in a freezing cold flat, with no television, no presents, no food in the fridge that had been turned off at the mains. I had no tree, no decorations, nothing to mark the day as any different from any other.
I was unemployed, broke, and broken. I hadn't bought a single present for my one-year-old son, and instead let him go to his father’s for the day, knowing I could not give him a Christmas myself.
This year, I’m lucky that things are different for me. But I am outraged that for 60,000 other people are facing the same situation. How can it be that in 2013, 20,000 children face Christmas with empty cupboards and no presents? And why is that figure three times the number that faced a hungry Christmas last year?
I don’t think this is acceptable in the seventh richest country in the world – and I’d really like to know the reasons why it’s happening so we can stop it.
That’s why I’m launching this petition calling for parliament to debate the causes of UK hunger – and to ask why, in modern Britain, foodbank use is escalating so rapidly.
This December, I’m backing the Daily Mirror and Unite the Union’s ‘Give Our Kids A Christmas’ Appeal for the Trussell Trust to raise money for Foodbanks. But we want to do more than just raise money to help – we also want get to the root of UK hunger.
I know what it’s like to turn the fridge off because it's empty anyway. To unscrew the lightbulbs to alleviate the temptation of turning them on. I spent countless mornings sitting across the breakfast table from my son, envious of his small portion of cereal mashed with a little bit of water, or his slice of toast with jam. "Where's Mummy's breakfast?" he used to ask. Mummy wasn't hungry. Mummy hadn’t been hungry the previous night either, and I used to wonder how long it would take him to notice that Mummy wasn’t very hungry at all any more.
I was referred to my local foodbank for help by a Sure Start children's centre, after staff noticed that my son and I always had seconds and thirds of the free lunch they provided.
This Christmas, my son and I will have food on the table. But 60,000 others won’t. It’s not just the festive season – 350,000 people received three-days emergency food from foodbanks between April and September this year. Yet supposedly the economy is recovering, and banker’s bonuses are back?
Please join me by signing this petition calling for a Parliamentary Debate. Make politicians confront what is happening. We need to stop turning a blind eye.
In the words of Desmond Tutu: "There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they're falling in."