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Archiv čísel » 2017/4 - ERIS Journal - Summer 2017 »

Shelley Briggs, Mark Foord

Food Banks and the Transformation of British Social Welfare

Medailon autora:

Shelley Briggs has taught Social Work and Social Policy at the University of Central Lancashire since January 2009, and before that at DeMontfort University. Prior to working in higher education she worked in mental health clinical practice in Canada and criminal justice Social Work in Scotland. She has diverse research interests in Comparative Social Policy; gender issues, community work and mental health.

Mark Foord taught Social Policy at the University of Central Lancashire from 2004 until August 2017. Prior to that, he worked at the Centre for Housing and Urban Studies, University of Salford. He has research interests around Comparative Social Policy; community work; homelessness, and adult social care.


Since the mid-1970’s, the British social welfare system has undergone a process of radical transformation. There are seminal moments in this journey, most recently the 2015 election of a transformative Conservative administration, driven by a deep anti-state ideology which attempted to cut welfare, diminish the public realm and re-define Britain’s relationship with Europe. To fill the hiatus left by spending cuts, the development of voluntary (‘Big Society’) community initiatives was encouraged. The food bank movement provides an important exemplar of the nexus of state withdrawal, precariousness and voluntarism. In many parts of Britain, food banks have become the defacto welfare safety net, offering emergency assistance and personalised support, delivered by volunteers. As such, food banks provide insights into the future shape of British welfare provision. This paper maps the development, impact and scope of food banks in Britain; it argues support for voluntarism is driven by a desire to enact forms of welfare intervention based on conditionality and mistrust of cash based welfare. It concludes by arguing that whilst the Neo-liberal vision for food banks is embedded in an anti-welfare agenda, food banks have the potential to develop as discursive community spaces offering care, support and social action.

Klíčová slova:

social welfare transformation, precariousness, food banks, voluntary action

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