The Iceland Food Club is one of the great successes of our time. It shouldn’t be needed. Like food banks and warm banks and any number of other good initiatives to help prevent many in society from falling off the edge, it’s a gross shame it exists at all.
But you can’t argue against the position you’re in. During this period of cruel and chaotic dissonance, when we are frequently told by our government that what we can see and experience is not the reality of what we see and experience, the best we can do is fix the worst of things and plan to make sure they don’t return.
We’ve covered the Food Club a lot. It is a scheme offering interest-free micro loans to help people who are struggling. Rather than being driven to merciless loan sharks and a spiral of greater debt and fear, this initiative is available at a key moment and in a responsible way it helps, and also allows people to help themselves.
When it was close to launch one of the people behind it told me it came about because of the community-based way the Iceland stores are staffed. Many staff live in the communities in which they work. They started to notice that as the cost of living was gripping, some customers were missing out on a weekly shop here and there. They just couldn’t afford it. And so the micro-loan scheme was born to help them through.
This week came details of those who use it. One of the most striking things to emerge was that 83 per cent of those taking out loans were women. You can add your own thoughts about what this says about how women still carry the domestic load. Or you can see that in tough times we men are often found wanting, and it is women who see what is needed and step up. The majority of the women are aged between 25-45 and the loans are spiking during school holidays.
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