Poverty destroys lives.
It puts up barriers to potential, wrecking life chances and holding communities back.
The fact that in 21st century Britain, the scourge of poverty remains an ever-present in so many parts of this country, is a national disgrace.
Here in Tameside, we still face immense challenges in tackling poverty, symbolised by the impact it is having on the next generation.
In 2021/22, over one third (36.1%) of children in Tameside were living in poverty, a figure that rose by 5% since 2014/15.
Thankfully, we have a community that looks out for each other, giving a helping hand to those that need it.
Last Sunday, I spent time volunteering at the Work for Smile UK foodbank in Crowcroft Park, Longsight, which will form part of the new Gorton and Denton constituency, in which I will be the Labour candidate at the next general election.
Run by a gentleman called Zaman, alongside his family and other dedicated volunteers, the foodbank is a vital resource for the local community.
It provides a safety net for so many, ensuring people have the basics they need to keep going.
But the fact that so many people must rely on foodbanks should concern us all.
After 13 years of Tory decline, relying on a foodbank is a necessity facing almost three million people across the UK, according to the Trussell Trust.
When it comes to the fight to end poverty, tinkering round the edges won’t cut it, we need a fundamental change.
It’s why I’m proud to back Labour’s New Deal for Working People, led by my Tameside colleague Angela Rayner MP, which will deliver a genuine living wage and extend it to all adults, scrap the scourge of zero hours contracts, and strengthen workers’ rights.
Measures that won’t just make a change in the here and now but help fight back against poverty for generations to come.
However, in the face of that Tory decline, foodbanks like Zaman’s, as well as those at St Mary’s Church in Haughton Green and Tameside East in Dukinfield, are doing an incredible job, and need our support now more than ever.
As we head into the Christmas period, when foodbanks are often at their busiest, I would urge everyone across Tameside to show their local foodbank the support it needs, through donations or volunteering, and help keep that community spirit going.