Rob Hallam

Newsletter 2015-01-12: Welcome Back and SPB Launch!


Welcome to 2015!

I hope everyone had a thoroughly enjoyable holiday period and a great new year! I also hope everyone is looking forward to the second semester as much as I am. We had a great first half of the year, and the second will be even better! I’m really proud of everything we’ve achieved so far and I know we can achieve even more. Let’s make it happen in 2015.

Due to a couple of unfortunate computer mishaps I’ve lost progress in writing this newsletter, so tho first edition will be a succinct account of what’s on this week; with a bigger, better edition to follow next week. Thanks for your patience, and on with the show.

First Meeting: Tuesday 13th January 2015 – SPB Preview!

Tuesday 13th January 2015 5PM, Williams Room, John MacIntyre Building

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I’m very excited to inform you that this week we have a real treat: the Secret Policeman’s Ball preview. This will be held in the Williams Room of the John MacIntyre Building, which is right at the main gates. You can find the room on the left at the top of the stairs if you enter from the doors on University Avenue. If you enter from the other side of the building you can find the stairs at the back, along the corridor and the vending machines. Any questions, just get in touch and we’ll help you out.

Billy Kirkwood is coming along to show us all the high standards of comedy we have at the SPB (check out the photos from last year) so you can get an idea of what to expect. Duncan and Joe will be there to tell us all about it too.

So bring along your friends and flatmates on Tuesday to see what comedic treats we’re in for in February! Join the Facebook event and invite folks along too!

Collaboration Event: Ebola Awareness Evening

‘The Face Behind the Symptoms’ – Thursday 15th January 5PM, John MacIntyre Building Room 208

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In collaboration with Oxfam, we would like to being to your attention The Face Behind the Symptoms, and ebola awareness event presented by Hannah Davies (who is just back from Sierra Leone) this Thursday at 5 PM in the John MacIntyre Building, in Room 208. Since the outbreak in west Africa in March 2014, there have been over 17 000 reported cases of ebola, and over 6 000 deaths. This makes it the worst ebola outbreak since the first known ones in 1976; and in fact worse than all other outbreaks combined.

Come along to learn more about what is happening, the people affected, and what you can do to help.

Here’s the Facebook event, please come along to what promises to be a very informative event.

Coalition for a Conflict-Free Glasgow University Screens ‘Blood in the Mobile’

Monday 19th January 2015, Venue TBC

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We’ve previously screened Blood in the Mobile ourselves. It’s a compelling look at the conflict mineral mining operations in the DR Congo; you’ll never look at a phone, tablet or camera the same again. The Coalition for a Conflict-Free Glasgow University (who hosted a recent conference) are planning on screening this powerful film again this Monday; we’re going along to watch it because as difficult as it is to see these things, it’s an important film.

Keep your eyes on their Facebook pageor ours! – for more details.

Thanks for Reading

With the awful events taking place this week it’s ever more important that we speak out for human right- freedom of speech and expression is fundamental. With that in mind, I will let the following images say more than I ever could:

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#JeSuisCharlie

Get in Touch

If you have any questions, suggestions or feedback you can always get in touch either via the website or on Facebook or Twitter.

Rob Hallam

Food Banks and Poverty, Poverty and Food Banks

Difficulties often come hand-in-hand, like poverty and the use of food banks. This week saw the kick-off of our food banks campaign, which is something we’ve not looked at in any detail in my many several some years with GU Amnesty. Way back in the campaigns meeting one of the reasons suggested in favour of choosing food banks as a campaigns was the locality of the issue: in 2009 there was one Trussel Trust food bank in Scotland; in 2013 there were 42, with another 17 in development (1). Recent public events in Glasgow have seen en-masse donations to food banks, underscoring a level of interest and appreciation of the issue from the public. At least, that’s the hope.

Food Banks in Scotland Infographic

In Scotland food banks and related services have expanded greatly even in the last few years.

The issue is both huge and uncomfortable. In the UK, mobdro free download estimates put the proportion of the population below the poverty line at 1 in 5. This is nearly 13 millions people, or nearly two-and-a-half times the population of Scotland. Those numbers are shocking, but can be hard to relate to; so let me put it a different way. Let’s say there were around thirty people at the meeting on Tuesday. If the group is representative of a national average (which I don’t think we are, but that’s not important here), it would be likely that one or two of the people you were sitting with at your group’s table is in poverty. Now, there’s admittedly a fair amount of hand-waving and inaccuracy in there, but the point is: one in five in poverty is huge.

Not quite as large but just as uncomfortable is the number of people using food banks in the UK. Sources put it at around 1 million, and we’re not alone: compare with 1.5 million in Germany. That’s a million people who most likely have a choice between a food bank, or going hungry. A choice between going hungry, and the potential social stigma associated with using a food bank- to be accused of being ‘too lazy to work’; ‘wanting something for free’; or the loss of pride felt at being unable to provide for themselves and their family. These aren’t choices any person anywhere should have to make, much less in the prosperous UK. It’s bad enough that the UK has been accused of violating the basic human right to food as a result.

Why have we gotten to this stage? One of the common definitions of poverty, includes those living at or below 60% of median household income (2). While this is both somewhat arbitrary and indirect, it would in itself point to a reason that an ever-higher proportion are in poverty: widening income disparity. But this still says next to nothing about the causes of poverty. There is a veritable laundry list of reasons put forward: disability, illness, racial discrimination, lone parent, or simply a person being born into poverty means it’s much more likely that they will remain in poverty. Tougher financial times will also have a significant impact on the standard of living, disproportionately so at the bottom end of the scale. One of the big reasons that came up in both videos we saw (Breadline Britain and Julie Webster discussing Maryhill Food Bank) was that benefit changes, reductions or even delays mean people are put in a situation where they may have to seek help with food.

Trussel Trust: Reasons for Food Bank Use

Stated reasons for accessing food banks vary

I could continue to quote statistics from the meeting we had on Tuesday – 4 million kids Mobdro Online TV living in deprivation; 2.5 in damp homes; 1.4 in homes that aren’t adequately heated; it goes on – but the case is clear enough. Fortunately, as ever with our campaigns, we can do something about this. This being a campaign with a very local focus, we can perhaps do even more than we could otherwise. It was extremely heartening to see both the generosity of food donated, and the enthusiasm for continuing to drive this forward. Breffni O’Connor voiced both her and the SRC’s support for widening the campaign for food donations; both she and others had some great ideas for how to go about this. There is potential for Glasgow University to come together and do something meaningful and of tremendous benefit to the community.

I really hope we do.

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  1. http://www.understandingglasgow.com/indicators/poverty/food_banks 
  2. http://www.poverty.ac.uk/definitions-poverty/income-threshold-approach