This week Bosco Santimano founder and executive director of social enterprise You Can Cook, shares his thoughts on Covid-19’s devastating fallout on the world’s economy, food and people.
What has Covid-19 taught us so far? I have been researching and reading lots of articles and opinions by experts in the field of science, environment, food, health and well-being, poverty and social justice since this pandemic began and the devastating impact on the most vulnerable and poor amongst us. Many governments around the world have been supportive of their citizens in terms of offering financial support to keep people from going hungry and making sure they have a roof over their heads. Overall Western economies have given a lifeline to businesses and employees through financial stimulus packages never before seen on such a massive scale. In the UK austerity had propelled mass economic hardships on millions of families through a Tory ideology that made the poor, disabled and disadvantaged suffer for the chaos caused by the rich bankers and financial institutions since the 2008 recession. People that are paying with their lives are low waged, zero hour contract workers in this gig economy, where people are forced to take up work that benefits big corporations through tax breaks and other subsidies offered by politicians to their donors in exchange for either a peerage or directorships after losing elections or resigning; whichever comes first.
As a community interest company we have always looked at innovative solutions to tackle food poverty and highlight the underlying issues that are often overlooked by governments and local authorities in this country. Since March this year child poverty has increased exponentially across the board with more families falling into economic hardship due to job losses or claiming benefits that are not fit for purpose in this day and age. We as an organisation have never shied away from pointing the finger at the real culprits in this avoidable saga i.e. our elected representatives, whether it’s our local councillors, MSP’s or MP. What can we do now to reverse this trend and abolish food poverty across the country? Councils across Scotland should be making more land available to local communities for converting to allotments and having a healthy supply of local food made available for all seasons. Weekly Farmers markets should be organised and subsidised by local authorities and government to encourage and inspire locals especially young people to look at growing food as a career option. Big landowners should lose their subsides for not growing food which we the tax payers pay for every year.
Growing food organically should be the norm and edible gardens should be made compulsory for all schools where growing methods are taught and pupils trained in this subject as part of the school curriculum. We were instrumental in building the first organic training garden in Scotland on school premises, right here in the Borders at St. Ronan’s Primary school, Innerleithen. This edible garden is still up and running and has a bright future for the school pupils, teachers and community. The legacy will live on for future generations of pupils to enjoy and learn new skills in farming and growing food with no reliance on corporations to supply their expensive fertilisers and pesticides which poison the environment and indirectly has a negative long term impact on the health of communities across Scotland and the world.
This pandemic has already increased food prices by over 40% and also taking into account previous increases of up to 35% since the Brexit vote, you get to see the bigger picture of millions in this country not able to buy good, affordable nutritious food.
Is it too much to ask our council to spend on educating young people in skills that will actually help save themselves and this country from starvation in any future global event? £15 million was made available for iPads and costs will keep mounting as the corporation that needs to feed its shareholders will only get hungry every year for more money and contracts. What is our priority as a society? Food or iPads?
You the people will decide.
Stay safe! Eat well!
Published in The Peeblesshire News on Friday 7th August 2020.
Having moved to Peebles in 2002, ‘Stooriefit’ Bosco Santimano gives us his own take on what he feels is the hot topic of the day. This week it’s Black Lives Matter…
The murder of a Black man in America caught on film was so heart-breaking to watch, never mind the past of this man. Right-wing media like FOX News in America jumped on the bandwagon of spreading more lies than truth of George Floyds past in inflaming race tensions. This narrative was imported through social media right here in the UK and shared by many as the absolute truth including some of my Facebook friends! A token Black women became famous overnight among the white right-wing groups for speaking out against the media coverage of the killing. After doing some research on her background it came to light that she is a right-wing black conservative who also appears on, guess where? FOX News! This women’s name is Candace Owens and she is the designated “Gatekeeper” for the whites in America and a hero for right-wing extremists to justify the continuation of their racist ideology on her own people!
During the Scottish Independence campaign I realised who were my Unionist Facebook friends and now the Racists among them have shown their true colours. I am aware there are still a few closet racists who dare not comment or speak about such issues. We can never truly move forward as one human race, in peace, love and harmony if we don’t confront our past as a nation that committed horrific atrocities amounting to genocide on former colonies and their citizens around the world. The vested interests among us want their citizens to be ignorant so that when the time is right they can switch on the racist rhetoric that has been conditioned in their minds since school on the unsuspecting public. This is then used to fan racial tensions and violence to keep the status quo but also to sow hatred and fear among the non-whites living in the country. Our education system should teach the kids what their ancestors did and how this country became one of the richest in the world by committing rape, murder and looting of resources from its former colonies by express authorisation from the Queen! Even the Germans taught their children about Nazism so that they would not want to see a repeat of their shameful history.
Getting rid of statues will not solve this centuries old issue of race nor another commission on racial inequality when the real problem is in our hearts and minds. We have reached the tipping point in this white western world where all policies; financial, social and economic have been controlled by the rich white elite one percent, who after the second world war setup these very institutions to control their former colonies around the world.
That topic is for another time.
If we need to get rid of what truly represents our dark past as a nation then it’s time to remove the Monarchy and the Great! in Great Britain! Democracy will then have truly arrived on these islands.
Published in The Peeblesshire News on Friday 26th June 2020.
Food poverty has reached crisis point in this country since the Conservatives won the elections in 2010. They abolished previous Labour policies that helped bring millions of children and families out of poverty. The Tories used the financial crash of 2008 to put the blame and target people claiming unemployment benefits and in-work benefits. Their ideology has decimated and created an environment that has pitted this group against the financially struggling working and middle classes of this country, while the real perpetrators of these economic crimes have been basking in wealth and glory. The gap between rich and poor has widened since the Tories took power.
Food poverty is a significant threat to health and well-being and is completely preventable in the fifth largest economy of the world! Due to the direct consequences of this policy, foodbanks have become the next big institution in this country, the first being the monarchy and the second – religion. While the Queen’s benefits and entitlements have increased according to inflation along with our mafia of elected members of Parliament, these very people have voted down any increases to benefits on the pretext that we have to live within our means!
What will it take for citizens of this great country to stand-up for the weak and vulnerable and spark a revolution to remove these archaic institutions that have no place in a modern democracy?
The Trussell Trust’s most recent figures on Scottish foodbank use, taken from April to September 2018, found a 15 per cent year-on-year increase which it linked directly to the rollout of Universal Credit. These figures are only the tip of the iceberg and they do not reflect the use of other types of emergency food aid provision or the scale of people going hungry without accessing any help at all. Scottish government figures last year which measured food insecurity for the first time revealed one in five of single parents in Scotland had gone hungry. We have been working with disadvantaged families in the Borders and Lothians for over five years and have seen first-hand the impact of benefit cuts and sanctions on low income groups. It was disheartening to see young children coming to school hungry and fainting due to lack of food in their homes. It’s upsetting to see this happening in this country in this day and age. Most people were quick to judge and condemn so-called benefit scroungers without understanding the implications on the innocent children who were the real victims in this Tory government class-motivated destruction.
I have to use strong words as the reality is what it is, and no amount of spin from our elected masters will change the devastation that has been caused, all because of an ideology!
The Brexit fiasco has made things worse for the common folk who have no means or access to financial support. Ultimately, foodbanks will be the Tories’ toxic legacy to Great Britain in the 21st Century just as Thatcher’s poll tax.
Its appalling after over 6 years Lord Duncan Smith who initiated the changes to the benefit system has gone scot free after managing and presiding over the worst change in UK benefits history and a huge loss to the public exchequer.
Millions have so far been written off due to massive IT problems with trying to incorporate 6 benefits into 1 i.e. Universal Credit. This was promoted by Ian as a huge change to the current system where work would pay but instead it has created a big number of people and families poor and worse off due to this system.
Our own elected MP Mundell is sitting tight on a huge pay salary and massive budget over the Scotland Office, a gatekeeper post for keeping the Scots in line with the orders of his Imperial masters in London.
It beggars belief how much this country has been subjugated and conditioned by her majesty and her minions to make us believe that these people need to work hard and stop relying on benefits or state hand-outs, while the Queen and her extended family can milk the system to the very last drop of blood from poor and working class individuals and families. The good old days of the Empire are truly back.