As part of their Lenten commitment to charitable giving, the boys of The Oratory School held a Home Clothes Day, and, in return for a day off uniform, each contributed to a collection for ReadiFood, a local Christian food bank in Reading. Donations included a range of goods that the food bank had requested, especially tinned vegetables, tea and coffee, and nappies.
As the Charity Committee told the school in assembly, food bank use soared to new highs last year, a situation that was attributed to changes in the benefit system and the rising costs of living. Furthermore, it is a misconception that food banks are being used only by those who are not in work; on the contrary, many people who are in work find that they are the only way to feed a family, once a low income has been spent on bills and housing. Research by the Trussell Trust found that over a third of parents working full-time and earning less than the real Living Wage are now regularly skipping meals. While this is obviously entirely unacceptable, and an issue which the government and society need to address, it is also where food banks like ReadiFood are able to step in and make a difference. ReadiFood delivers an average of 160 food parcels a week, with referrals made by local advisory agencies, the council, drug and alcohol teams, housing teams, and churches, among others. The school’s donations will go to support their work.
A team of Oratory students in the Lower Sixth travelled into Reading with a member of staff and delivered the food to the charity. Kieran Green writes:
‘We travelled down to Reading last Thursday, with all the food donations from the previous week packed – it must be mentioned the minibus was filled to the brim! We were greeted at the door by the manager and the volunteer workers of Readifood. After unloading, we were shown a brief tour of the facilities, something which I personally had never had the opportunity to experience, prior to this day. It was eye opening, and made me really want to contribute more in future donating events, especially due to the work of the selfless volunteers who sacrifice hours of unpaid work to benefit others in our local community. This exposure to what it’s really like to run a food bank has definitely made me want to become more charitable, and I certainly can't wait to go again next year!’
ReadiFood were very grateful for the effort made by all the Oratory boys who donated to the food bank, and especially those who organized and delivered the collection.