Some members of our community, despite working hard for their employers, do not get paid a living wage.

This shameful and unjust situation keeps them trapped in poverty through no fault of their own.

During the period October last year to May of this year, more than one in six households who sought help from the West Northumberland Food Bank had someone in work.

One in 10 of the households cited ‘low pay’ as their reason for needing help.

Low pay was also the reason given by almost a third of the households who are struggling with debt.

Those figures cover all three branches of the food bank.

If we look at the figures for the Hexham branch alone, the figures are worse: one in five households who asked for help had someone in work; over one in six households struggled with low pay; more than a quarter of households had ‘problematic’ debts. (Information supplied by RealLivingWageHexham who obtained it from the food bank).

What must these peoples’ lives be like living from day to day in poverty, in the midst of plenty, worrying about bills, arrears, debt collectors, court orders, bailiffs?

How painful it must be for them to be unable to provide adequately for their children, themselves, and others in their care, despite their best efforts.

The right to a just or living wage is essential for the realisation of other rights such as freedom from discrimination and freedom from poverty, and helps people to assume their proper place in society. We need to remember and live the ideal of the Common Good.