This spell of very dreich and gloomy weather has meant that I am watching more daytime TV that I would normally.
On BBC at 0915 today ( 7/12/2015) and all week, is a programme about a Catholic Nun nicknamed “ Attila the Nun”. Sister Rita is an Irish Catholic nun who does not wear the usual religious habit, and works in a Diocese near Manchester City Football ground. She runs The Lalley Centre, a foodbank, advice centre, and good neighbour shop all rolled into one. Her withering honesty and straightforward attitude to clients, and Civil Servants alike, is tempered with good humour. I think very few people would try to be dishonest with this formidable nun.
It is clear that knows her clientele very well, and with her team of volunteers she helps people navigate benefit forms, hands out food parcels, and finds money to pay for necessary kitchen appliances where necessary.
Today’s episode saw her tackle rumours of a particular couple who were exploiting the generosity of the foodbank, by parking their car some distance away and then walking to the distribution centre. Sister Rita opined “if they can afford a car they do not need a food parcel”.
She also undertakes helping a lady with multiple medical problems, who is seeking PIP, but is getting bogged down with problems from the assessment companies, who keep passing the buck to each other and forgetting that each application is real person who is not getting benefit.
The programme also looks at the poverty caused by sanctioning.
It would be fair to say that Sister Rita does not like sanctioning. Tomorrow’s episode sees her travel to meet IDS.
Well worth a watch.
There are clips from the programme. I liked the remark by Sister Rita today after meeting IDS when she said we are not pro -Government. “We are pro – the people out there in the centre”. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03b5jll
This foodbank does not work like the Trussell Trust, but is an independent with its own rules. People are given one bag of food without any reference on the first visit. Thereafter they are scrutinised and have to provide proof of need on subsequent return. The food is what most supermarkets would throw out because it is nearing the end of its shelf life. This means there is a lot of fresh food. Even then, what is left from Lalley centre is then given to other charities for use with homeless etc. Sister Rita also uses her strong personality to get as much charity from local food producers as she can, for example, a sausage maker, and a bakery to donate what they can. It would appear her visit brought about a trial where JobCentre Staff visit the centre every week and can advise on the spot.