We need to support the people who need the help of society - Anthony Bernard

Exmouth Community Food Larder manager Anthony Bernard.

Exmouth Community Food Larder manager Anthony Bernard. - Credit: Picture: Simon Horn.

Exmouth Community Larder coordinator Anthony Bernard writes about the need to help others in his latest column

Slavery still has victims today; in the modern world slavery takes many forms and involves all variations of race and colour.

Illegal immigrants in the UK are pressed into servile jobs with unacceptable living conditions, no doubt also in other countries.

In Asia there are ‘sweatshops’ producing goods very cheaply, with dreadful living conditions, while middlemen make big profits selling to retailers in the UK so people can purchase ‘bargains’.

Shock-horror - the news has found that this exists in Leicester; maybe not racial, maybe the profiteers come from the same community as their workers?

Even around us, there are people living hand to mouth with uncertain job prospects, simply bound to keep going whatever the conditions to feed their family. Some are migrant workers, others are trapped into a situation by illness or the illness of a loved one who cannot be abandoned. Some are picking our vegetables, others working in care homes or in ‘hospitality’.

People in conditions which they are obliged to accept in order to survive could be described as enslaved. Oddly enough, American history tells us that the slaves once freed were not much better off - they still needed to work for food and shelter!

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Enslavement needs to be eradicated; racial discrimination needs to be eradicated - but they are separate issues.

In the foodbank we see people trapped in situations by illness, addictions and other problems. The answer is not to topple statues or make gestures, but to support those people who need support within our own reach.

The Citizen’s Advice and other agencies need all the help they can get to protect and promote the society we would like to be; volunteers need to come forward; politicians need to be lobbied! We should purchase carefully, to avoid supporting child labour or sweated labour.

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