Teenagers open letter to Kevin Foster MP

(Last Updated On: October 23, 2020)
Dear Mr Foster,

I write to you following the recent majority vote against the motion to provide free school meals during the school holidays, to children in receipt of this benefit during term time, until Easter 2021.

This year has seen circumstances of heavy financial strain, both on the Government and the people of our country. While the furlough scheme served to save many from the hands of poverty, in lockdown, a huge number of people still fell through this safety net, so many jobs were lost, so many people have had to apply for financial assistance for the first time, namely Universal Credit. Those applying for this were met with a 5-week waiting time for the initial payment, having no option but to take an ‘Advanced Payment’ which is deducted at a heavy rate from later payments thereafter. Over 100,000 families are estimated to have used food banks for the first time, over 100,000 families came to rely on the good will of the community, over lockdown.

In Torbay, your constituency, 6000 children live in a state of poverty. There are over 10 food banks as well as numerous community larders, a school uniform bank and many more charities and CICs. Members of the local community often respond to calls for support on social media.

I find it appalling that you and your colleagues have voted against a motion that would have provided much needed support to the impoverished of your constituency, and the rest of the nation. These families will now inevitably rely on food banks, to simply provide their children with a square meal. Many of these struggling families relied on the free meals their children received, as their children’s main source of food and nutrition. I find it sickening, that you have voted to let 6000 children, in your constituency, potentially go without a meal. Do you honestly believe you serving Torbay well, and correctly, by doing this?

The Government has found money for a rail link, HS2, with estimated costs of £106 billion. MPs can claim £25 a night for food expenses when they stay overnight, outside their constituency or London. You also receive subsidised meals in the Westminster complex. The Government can pay and fund these things after lockdown, but can’t find the money to support hungry, impoverished children.

I am the 14 year old son of a single mother who has fought for me throughout my life against stigma and stereotype. Please do not think that, in these never-seen-before times of hardship, that you are creating dependency on the state. You would be giving a hand up, not a hand out. You would also be protecting and helping to blossom our country’s future. These children are my peers, and through the platform of ‘The Babbacombe Pantry’ who I set up in lockdown to help the vulnerable and in-need, I stand up to protect them.

Yours sincerely,

Alfie Dean

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  1. What a powerful letter - 100% behind you, but nothing will shift Tories like him.

  2. I would just like to say, as someone working in the voluntary sector with school aged children. That childhood poverty is a major issue in the bay. Which impacts on their mental health and well being and those of their families. These families are struggling to make ends meet and failing due to lack of support. Especially those with children who are disabled by society in some way. The stress and anxiety these parents face is growing day by day and many of them are near to breaking point. Free school meals can provide a lifeline to these children and their families.
    This young lad has put in his own time and ingenuity to do something positive. He has taken personal responsibility to make the changes in society that he want's to see take place. By supporting those less fortunate than himself. This selfless and generous act is something to be applauded. It is the kind of response that us adults are always asking young people to do to participate in society and make a positive contribution. The response he has received from the local authority was a punitive one and completely undermined what he was doing. Rather than talk to him about how to make it safe, they closed his project down. So rather than support and applaud his efforts. The adults in authority deliberately undermined him. Well done Torbay Council. You very effectively undermined all of the work that youth services provided by the voluntary and statutory sector are striving to achieve with young people in the bay in the most public of ways. How sad and narrow minded. I think perhaps local authority staff sometimes forget that they are there to support people in the community. After all we pay their wages through our tax system!
    I can only applaud this young man for providing a shining example of empathy, action and positive response to a massive and overwhelming problem created by politicians in authority by their lack of empathy.Ii think he has done a fantastic job and written a very mature letter to Mr Foster, that even his English teacher would be proud of. What an amazing young man. The question now is how will Mr foster and other politicians that are supposed to represent us do about it?
    My expectation is very low but my hopes are very high. This is an opportunity to inspire a young person or to totally undermine him. We are all watching very closely.
    Tony Delahoy