A few weeks ago, a lady came into Crouch End’s Shelter and offered to donate a tent. The manger couldn’t accept the tent, but offered some excellent advice about how she could pass it on to a rough sleeper.

This was shortly after ex-Home Secretary Suella Braverman decided that living al fresco outside Coutts on the Strand is a lifestyle choice, so it should be illegal for charities to provide rough-sleepers with tents.

Another example of a lifestyle choice is being a barrister.

In festive mood, Braverman’s chum Robert Jenrick joined in. He banned Care4Calais from visiting asylum seekers in Home Office-run accommodation to offer legal advice, haircuts, coats and hats. Merry Christmas Bob!

Braverman’s comments made me wonder whether, in tandem with other outrageous remarks, this was a cunning dead-cat-drop to divert attention from a new Joseph Rowntree Foundation study. Four million people are now living in destitution in the UK, including one million children without their own bed.

Ham & High: David Winskill says 4,000,000 people in the UK are living in destitutionDavid Winskill says 4,000,000 people in the UK are living in destitution (Image: Archant)

Destitution means that people struggle to keep warm, fed, clothed and clean.

In March, Hornsey Food Bank experienced record demand.

They helped 282 clients, who collected on behalf of 1,032 people, including 117 children. Nine months later, the figures have soared to 337 clients, 1,343 people - 469 children (about the same number as the entire school roll of St Mary’s Primary School in Hornsey).

One of the food bank’s organisers told me that families using the service are dreading Christmas: continually having to say 'no' to young children who are being bombarded with television Christmas ads is soul-destroying.

Many supermarkets have drop-off points so, for those who can, now is the time to donate something a little cheerier than the usual tins of own-brand beans. Small toys, family treats, puddings and mince pies, toiletries – the things that would help make anyone’s Christmas.

If more convenient, you can deliver items to Middle Lane Methodist Church on Wednesday, December 20.

The Government should be tackling destitution as a national disgrace and as an emergency priority. Instead, they are fixated with bankers’ bonuses and making it harder to be sick and survive.

If chancellor Hunt is missing Braverman’s meditations on how to make life yet more miserable for the disadvantaged, he can ask his new cabinet colleague David Cameron for a few of his Austerity Top Tips.

Bah Humbug!

  • Visit: hornseyfoodbank.com/ to donate or check out the foodbank in your neighbourhood.
  • David Winskill is a Crouch End campaigner.