Squeeze frontman Glenn Tilbrook attacks "shameful" need for food banks on latest tour

Glenn Tilbrook Pic by Rob O'Connor
Glenn Tilbrook Pic by Rob O'Connor

Squeeze frontman Glenn Tilbrook is doing his bit to tackle the “appalling” fact that people are still going hungry in this country.

He will be using his solo tour dates, which kick off on October 17 at The Ropetackle in Shoreham, to promote awareness and donations for The Trussell Trust, the charity that supports a network of foodbanks around the UK.

At most venues there will be food-drop points and collection boxes, and Glenn will also be donating all profits from his merchandise, including an exclusive four-track EP, to the organisation.

As he says, it is really “shameful” that food banks have to exist at all: “I was tearing my hair out. I am not trying to set myself up as anybody other than somebody who wants to help. I am just totally appalled at the fact that we are in that situation.

"If you look at my own history of growing up in a working-class family in a council flat… Had I been smart enough, I could have gone to university without incurring any debt. But I was aware of the fact that we didn’t always have enough to eat. There was the stigma of having free school meals. You always felt a little bit stigmatised.

"It was embarrassing, and I was in that position for a little while. I remember that feeling of helplessness. My mother did her best to shield me from that, but I can remember that.

“And you can crunch it down to statistics if you want or you can look at the human face of it, and the fact is that poverty is extremely sad. And my personal view is that you have got to deal with it here and now. The only thing I can do is to try to make a difference, and The Trussell Trust are doing such a good job of co-ordinating food banks. I am just doing this with the best intention, and in the end it is the intention which has got to win.

“The whole austerity crisis we find ourselves in… I don’t believe that austerity is necessarily the right way out, let alone Brexit which is a whole other discussion. But the fact is that people are being impoverished by the situation they find themselves in and it is hard to reconcile that with the fact that we are in 2018. Anyone, from any walk of life can fall upon dire times, and I hope this tour will remind people that there is a very real need.

"Most of us can do something to help – be it giving some food or a little money – and I hope people coming to the shows are inspired to donate.”

Glenn concedes he is most definitely getting more political as he gets older. There was proof enough of that when he changed the lyrics to a song live on The Andrew Marr Show, which featured then Prime Minister David Cameron as guest, to: “There are some here who are hellbent, on the destruction of the welfare state.”

“I was getting angry with what he was saying and I just changed the words on the spur of the moment. It was one of the most terrifying things in my life. I have never been in a media storm like that before… but it was just a storm in a tea cup for a week!”

Glenn says Squeeze were never as obviously political as, say, The Jam: “But Chris Difford’s lyrics were certainly initially rooted in our working-class experience. They were never overtly political. That was not something Chris was that comfortable with, but he did a brilliant job of making politics out of every-day life.”

The Trussell Trust is an anti-poverty charity that supports a network of over 420 foodbanks across the UK.

In 2017-2018, 1,332,952 three day emergency food supplies were provided to people referred to foodbanks in The Trussell Trust’s network, a 13 per cent increase on the previous year. Over a third of supplies (484,026) went to children.

Read more at http://www.trusselltrust.org

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