Whilst the issue of austerity and food banks might seem an odd subject to blog about on a website about the representation of gender and sexuality in the media, I’d argue it is an ideal subject.
I hadn’t really thought much about food banks until recently, having been lucky enough to have never had to use one. However, that changed when I saw Ken Loach’s extremely moving condemnation of the austerity agenda, I, Daniel Blake. I defy anyone to see the scene whereby Katie gorges on food in the food bank and then breaks down or the scene where she is forced to steal sanitary products, and not be moved. Imagine having a period and not being able to afford to keep yourself clean.
I suspect that the media, much of which repeatedly stereotype those who have to use these services as feckless, lazy, and deserving of such a fate, play a huge part in the empathy fatigue that many of us currently experience around these unfortunate individuals.
But whilst austerity is having a negative impact on the most vulnerable in our society luckily has become a positive call to action for others.
We Shall Overcome is the name of the musical movement that musician, activist, poet and washing machine repair man, Joe Solo established in 2015 and the tone, when he came last night, to speak about that movement to a sizeable crowd, packed into the function room of a normally quiet Lincolnshire pub, was of great optimism and potential.
The popular protest singer was invited to sing and to speak about activism, the austerity agenda and the weekend of locally organised fundraising gigs happening across the country on the 6th, 7th and 8th of October that he spearheads.
With his socially conscious lyrics, slicked quiff, battered denim jacket covered in pin badges and guitar adorned with stickers bearing mottos such as ‘This machine builds communities,’ Solo is perhaps best described as a combination of Billy Bragg, Joe Strummer and Woodie Guthrie.
The context from which the We Shall Overcome campaign emerges is bleak and its causes complex, but last night’s message was simple and upbeat. Joe’s rousing songs and informed, stimulating conversation emphasised the importance of community activity and that anyone can make a difference. His energy and enthusiasm were infectious.
To find out about We Shall Overcome events in your area or even to get support with setting up your own, visit weshallovercomeweekend.com.
The opinions expressed on this blog are mine, and do not reflect the opinions of the De Montfort University or any other employee thereof. Nor is De Montfort University responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied within this blog.