Foodbanks Campaign: Janey's call to end foodbank shame

COMEDIAN Janey Godley wants to see food banks on every high street in Glasgow.

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Janey Godley said she had to do without food as a youngster
Janey Godley said she had to do without food as a youngster

"It is easier to find a drug dealer than a food bank," says the 53-year-old over a cup of tea at her local cafe in the West End of the city.

Shettleston-born Janey is passionate about making sure poverty is out in the open and anything but shameful - because she grew up starving.

She is backing the Evening Times' Food Bank campaign because she believes a co-ordinated approach would make sure no-one goes hungry.

Janey also wants to remove the stigma attached to food poverty.

The mother-of-one admits she developed an eating disorder because of her complicated relationship with food.

She says: "I ended up anorexic because I thought it was not worth trying to get food.

"I was being sexually abused at the time. I thought if I don't grow and stay child-like I would be fine. I have had issues with food all my life.

"I was going to bed really hungry. I had to get up for school and go with an empty stomach. I remember eating things out of bins."

Janey thinks she would have "starved to death" without the support of the welfare state and kind-hearted people during her tough upbringing.

"I would have been dead," she says. "I am an example of how the safety net worked. And I had kind teachers at school.

"There was a teacher called Mr Burgess and he bought me a duffle coat because I was too poor to get one."

She remembers her mother going to the school to collect food when Janey was off sick, along with her two brothers and one sister.

"My mammy had to go down with a pot and get dinners out the school because she couldn't feed the four of us," she says.

"She went down and got four plates of soup and four macaroni cheese dinners."

Food banks, Janey says, are simply sharing - and that is what modern society needs to do more of.

"Young people go out and one pays for dinner one week and somebody pays the next," she says.

"What is the difference with that and a food bank? That is essentially what a food bank is: sharing.

"I remember there would be soup and food sharing in my close. There would be a granny at the top of the close who would make a big pot of soup, a big tray of tablet and everyone got their share.

"Food sharing was always very much a working class thing. Rather than let food go off they would share it.

"You got your auntie's pram, you slept in a third-hand cot ... it's all about recycling, it's all about passing things down."

Janey fears there are people starving across the city and west Scotland because they do not know how to find a food bank, or are too embarrassed to visit one.

She wants to see empty shop units on main streets turned into exchange centres for people to drop off and collect food.

"It should be out in the open," she says. "People should not have to find hidden food banks. Jack Bauer couldn't find one in 24!

"There is no coordination. Food banks should be everywhere - Shettleston, Dennistoun, Parkhead, the West End, the South Side ...

"There are shops in the high streets lying empty, the council should take them over and open up food exchanges. They should encourage it, market it, do social networking."

Janey says it needs to be a network "instead of sporadic pop-ups".

"I could quite happily drop in a loaf, or drop in porridge on the way back to my home," she says.

The comedian raised concerns about the amount of children going hungry in the city.

As the Evening Times previously reported, 4015 youngsters were fed by Glasgow food banks last year, according to the charity Trussell Trust.

Janey says: "I know what starving is. Not eating in 12 or 13 hours.

"It affects children at school. You can't think of anything when you are starving. All you can think about is food."

And for the rest of the population, the key, she believes, is removing the shame from food banks.

She says: "There must be pensioners out there who will not approach a food bank.

"There must be people in Bearsden, in Newton Mearns, and elsewhere who need a food bank. But they will be too scared to go to one because being poor is seen as shameful."

rachel.loxton@ eveningtimes.co.uk

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