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For thousands of people being in lockdown is not just an inconvenience, it is a fight for survival.

They are not just struggling with loneliness and worries about their friends and family, they are struggling to feed themselves and their children. Some are reaching breaking point.

That’s why today I am organising for a big delivery of food and vital supplies to be taken to Open Heaven church in West Bromwich and provided to those in the community who need it most.

I stood as a parliamentary candidate for the Labour Party in West Bromwich at the end of last year. It’s an amazing place with a community that is fun, vibrant, diverse, creative and straight-talking. I experienced so much kindness from local people over what was sometimes a gruelling election campaign.

Now, as we face our biggest challenge in a generation, I want to show solidarity with the people of West Bromwich and give something back. That’s what I hope this delivery – these tonnes of beans, pasta, flour and toilet roll – will do; offer a small glimmer of hope to those who may be starting to despair.

Over 70,000 food parcels are handed out across the West Midlands every six months through foodbanks. After a decade of austerity, when the Government have cut vital support services and wages have to stretch further to cover basic needs, more and more people are struggling to make ends meet.

The coronavirus outbreak has made this much, much worse as jobs are lost and people’s income is cut. Food banks, charities and community groups are doing an amazing job, but they’ve lost funding and volunteers too. So, like lots of us across the country, I want to do my bit. And alongside Meadow Valley Food, Foodelo Ltd and Tas Restaurants, who have kindly made this donation possible, tonnes of supplies will be making their way from this storage facility in London through to the West Midlands.

Of course, receiving food won’t remove all the worry, loneliness and fear. But if it means some of the most vulnerable people can have a proper, warm meal without worrying about how to pay for it, that’s a really good start.

So, as we continue living with uncertainty, I hope we’ll all keep looking out for each other and contributing what we can, so that we come through this with even stronger community bonds than we had before.

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