Biscuit fund: The volunteers patching up Britain’s welfare state
A few weeks ago, I decided to have a clear-out. There were several years’ worth of clutter best assigned to the rubbish, but among the old birthday cards and assorted keyrings, one box stood out: it was full of letters and cards from readers.
I started writing about social issues for the Guardian in 2012, around the time austerity measures began to be put in place. The following seven years have seen the emergence of a level of poverty few of us would have previously imagined possible in modern-day Britain, from hungry school children scavenging in bins for food to the growing homeless population sleeping in tents. But somewhere, not too far below the surface, I have also seen it produce a wave of generosity and hope.
This is exemplified by the reaction to my recent column about the Biscuit Fund, a volunteer-run “gifting service” for people going through hard times (named after a rumour that a Tory minister spent £10,000 a year on biscuits).