Our Food for Thought Programme volunteers at St Augustine's, Dumbarton went into fits of laughter after reading one of the stories carried today in The National. It was either laughter or tears of frustration. We chose to laugh!
The story is basically about our Government, and Ian Duncan Smith in particular, looking for new targets in an effort to lower the cost of our benefits system. It seems that those struggling with alcohol and drug problems as well as others who are obese face having their benefits stopped under draconian new welfare plans being considered by Iain Duncan Smith.
Part of our work is giving food to the hungry, those who have been sanctioned, and others who are not entitled to a penny from the Government. (Yes, there are people living in our community who get absolutely nothing). We now face the problem of obese people coming to our Foodshare looking for food because their benefits have been stopped!
How will we respond to this? One way is to size them up and judge them with the unspoken thought, "Aye, well you could do with losing a few pounds right enough", or we can treat them in the same way as anyone else is referred, and that is, "How would Jesus respond?"
Is this a valid way of addressing the health or addiction issues of a minority of people on benefits? People need to be supported back into the workforce, and not supported by the welfare non-system into poverty.
As my Associate Priest often says, "You gotta laugh", but today I've stopped laughing. We are now going after the obese! Who will be next? (Remember you are only allowed two children these days).
I'm predicting it's going to be pensioners. I may be wrong, but we may soon come to the point that those of a certain age will be means tested before receiving the State Pension they have paid for, supposedly, all through their working life. I only hope I'm wrong, but, hey, who would have thought that the obese would be a target group?