My Column in the Morley Observer

A local dad called my office last week at his wits end. He told us he had nowhere left to turn and no food in the cupboard for his kids. And he asked: “how do I contact a food bank?”

Over the last couple of years foodbank collections have become an all too familiar site in our local supermarkets. The Morley and South Leeds foodbank provides basic essentials to hundreds of local families each week.

So I joined volunteers at Morley Asda on Friday evening to collect donations. They told me many of those coming to them for help are in work but on low pay or have irregular hours. Others have been hit hard by the unfair bedroom tax which has taken the last £5 or £10 a week they had for food.

These families are facing impossible choices; to eat, heat their home or pay the rent. While, over Easter, many of us will be worrying about their kids eating too much chocolate, these parents – like the dad who contacted my office – will have no extra money for Easter eggs.

The good news is the shoppers we met on Friday were a very generous bunch. Bag after bag of basic groceries was handed over for the foodbank. Most contained a couple of tins, a bag of pasta, tea bags, sugar – the basics.

Food poverty has become a depressing reality for too many people. While the Government boasts about an economic recovery, most people are seeing no benefit. And according to our local foodbank, the problem is getting worse, not better.

I will continue to call for action from the Government to deliver an economic recovery that works for everyone, not just those at the top. We need urgent action to deal with a cost of living crisis that is pushing too many people to the brink of despair.

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Wakefield Hospice does amazing work for people in our area. And I’m always keen to support them whenever I can. A few years back they persuaded me to abseil down Wakefield Cathedral to raise money – one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done.

I took up running a few years back to the surprise of many, not least my wife Yvette. So when Wakefield Hospice told me they’d like me to start their annual 10km run I heaved a small sigh of relief. Of course I would start the race, and would be happy to compete in it too.

The race took place on Sunday morning. Along with thousands of runners, as well as members of my office team in Morley, I donned my running shoes and completed the Wakefield Hospice 10km in under an hour. Team Ed Balls raised over £1000 for this brilliant local cause. The run as a whole will raise over £40,000.

And my running shoes will be out again this weekend for the London Marathon. I’m determined to better my time from the last two years. I’m running for the disabled children’s charity Whizz-Kidz and Action for Stammering Children. Anyone who wants to support can visit my fundraising page: www.justgiving.com/teams/edballs2014 or please contact my Morley office on 0113 253 9466.

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Posted April 9th, 2014 by Ed