I wear two hats when I write this blog of mine. First and foremost, I manage a small charity in a small Scottish town called Dumfries. Ours is a front door that opens onto the darker corners of the crumbling world that is Britain 2015. We hand out 5000 emergency food parcels a year in a town that is home to 50,000 souls. Then, as you can see from all of the book covers above, I am also a thriller writer. If you enjoy the blog, you might just enjoy the books. The link below takes you to the whole library in the Kindle store. They can be had for a couple of quid each.

Monday, August 10, 2015


‘The Great Foodbank Siege’ is now available to buy in the Kindle Store for the princely sum of £3. 
Once Amazon and the Vat Man have taken their respective slices of the cake, £2 from every sale will help The First Base Agency Foodbank to keep our heads above water.
What do you need to do to get yourself a copy?
Just click on this link.

Then it is simply a case of doing the usual thing in the Kindle Store and duly buying and downloading a copy.
To be honest I feel pretty nervous about the whole thing. Our financial situation certainly isn’t all that pretty at the moment. If ‘The Great Foodbank Siege’ proves to be a success and we manage to sell lots and lots of copies, then it will be a huge weight of the mind. As things stand First Base will run out of cash in January and the thought of twenty people a day turning up for emergency food only to find a locked door really doesn’t bare thinking about.
I feel pretty confident that most people will enjoy the book. It isn’t overly long and everyone who has read it so far has told me it is a quick read. A page turner to use a particularly well worn cliché! I guess anyone who voted ‘Yes’ with enthusiasm last September will enjoy every page. Those who crossed the ‘No’ box with gusto? Well I guess they won’t like it quite as much! But what the hell. Even if you think you are going to hate every page, maybe you could still buy a copy. At least it helps to put food on the table for people whose cupboards are bare.
Is there anything else you can do to help out?
You bet there is.
If you read it and you like it, please take a few minutes to put a short review up on Amazon. Reviews really help.
If you read it and you like it, please share it around on social media. If this fundraising gambit is going to stand any chance of success, we will have to pick up some serious momentum in the ether worlds of Facebook and Twitter.
We have also had a bunch of leaflets printed. If you are willing to spread a few around for us, you can e mail me at with your postal address and I will send a few out.
If you are a part of any kind of group that invites speakers along, I would be delighted to turn out to do a couple of readings and to answer questions about the book and the foodbank.
It is odd how the world is changing. Thirty years ago we might have put on a jumble sale or shaken collection tins up the high street. Now we encourage supporters to click a button and spend an electronic three quid with an American multi-national.
How very bizarre and daunting.      
What is truly alarming is the fact that front line charities such as First Base find ourselves in a position where we are having to resort to increasingly frantic efforts to raise cash. Last week’s implosion of the Kids Company opened up an awful lot of eyes. I have no idea if there was bad stuff going down at the Kids Company. I hope not. It doesn’t seem that way. I found some of the criticism leveled at them to be a bit rich. Apparently they were at fault for not building up lots and lots of financial reserves. I very much doubt if this was an active choice they made. First Base has been running for twelve years now and we have never once managed to amass any reserves. It just doesn’t happen that way for most front line charities. Demand keeps on coming in through the front door and you simply do your best to keep up. It is called living from hand to mouth. Imagine if we told our clients that there is no food today because we are building up our reserves.
It seems that Kids Company worked from the same play book as the one we have always used. They tried their best to help as many kids as they could manage to help and in the end the massive demand became too much. 
In the end they were overwhelmed.
The decision the Government has made to succumb to their cold feet and pull the plug on Kids Company will end up costing the tax payer a fortune. Most of the buildings the Kids Company were using were given to them free of charge. They also had many thousands of volunteers who were willing to give up their time and their energy to help some of the most broken and vulnerable kids in the land.
So what happens now?
Will anyone let the Social Services use their buildings for free?
Will anyone volunteer to give their time and energy to the Social Services?
Will the Social Services be able to handle the thousands of broken children the Kids Company were supporting?
So what happens next? That is easy enough to predict, especially for someone who works in a front line charity like First Base. Alcoholism happens next. Drug addiction happens next. Homelessness happens next. Mental health problems happen next. Crime happens next. Violent crime happens next.
And people will get hurt and the prisons will be filled to bursting point.
The Government needs to wake up to the fact that it cannot simply throw the biggest nightmares in our society to the voluntary sector to deal with and expect us to manage on fresh air.
You are NOT cutting costs. All you are doing is sweeping problems under a carpet otherwise known as the front line charities. We are pretty good at what we do. And we are pretty dedicated. But we still have to find a way to pay the rent and the phone bill and the accountants and the electric bill.
There is no such thing as a volunteer light bulb.
It is high time that politicians of all colours stopped showboating for the cameras as they bang on about the ‘disgrace of foodbanks’.
Maybe it makes you feel good. In fact I’m sure it makes you feel good. But it does absolutely nothing to put food on the table for those of us who have nothing to eat. It would be a great deal more useful if you would take time out to ask us what help we need. I think you might be pleasantly surprised. You will find that front line charities get things done at a fraction of the cost that the public sector is used to.
But there ARE costs and there always will be costs and it is getting harder and harder to find enough cash to pay all the bills.
In a perfect world we would have enthusiastic people from the Government coming to visit and asking how they might help. Because getting food to people who have nothing to eat is pretty damned important.
In a perfect world they would wake up to the fact that places like First Base and Kids Company are now the safety net of last resort.
But our world isn’t close to being anything resembling perfect. In our world there will be no 7th Cavalry arriving care of the Government. Instead the only way we are going to be able to keep our heads above the rising tide is old fashioned people power.
So we really, really need lots of people to buy a copy of ‘The Great Foodbank Siege’.
For £3
By following this link

And then we need lots and lots of people to tell their pals to do the same.
And then by hook or by crook, our doors will continue to open every day and twenty or so people will get something to eat.
It really, really shouldn’t be this way.
But it is.
It’s Great Britain 2015 and it’s a hard place to be.
I guess that is about all I have to say.
I hope you’ll help us out.  


  1. Just bought it, now going to read it.
    Good luck and all the best, in your endeavours.

    1. Thanks for your support. Hope you enjoy the book

  2. Bought.

    I'll advertise it tomorrow on Munguin's Republic (I've just put up a post about Philip Hammond and his disgusting attitude to the Calais situation so I want to give it time to be read).

    I'll advertise it as much as possible.

    I think you'll win Mark. Scots are decent people. They don't want folk to starve.

    As for Kid's Company, I seriously can;t believe it. It's been going for years. It is audited every year. Why has it all gone wrong now?

    I'm seriously suspicious.

    OK.. off to do some Facebook and Twitter advertising.

    Good luck.

  3. Brilliant. Thanks for your support Tris. It is hugely appreciated.

  4. Oh well, the grass is not getting.cut this afternoon, I'll do it when I've finished the book.

  5. Hope it proves to be worth leaving the grass for!


    1. That is really, really good of you. Many thanks.

  7. Well done, Mark. An excellent read which brought tears to my eyes quite a few times with the believability of the histories of your main characters. And very glad no one had to die, and no collateral (civilian) casualties either.

  8. Bought. Read. In one sitting (well, had to go to bed between day 2 and 3! but up at 6am to finish!) I'll be giving it a shout on McRenegades this weekend and then a full review beginning of September. It's bloody brilliant Mark. Style and Substance. And for me, you've finally achieved a personal goal - your writing is every bit as good/compelling/tight/ as the best of Le Carre or Forsyth. Hats off to you mate! I was blown away by the style immediately and it held me all the way through. (off to do quick Amazon review on same tack!)

  9. Thanks for that Cally. I'm really pleased you enjoyed it. By the way I am almost next to Robert Harris in the Kindle Political Fiction chart. He does Cicero and I do foodbanks!

  10. Mark: Some of our readers have expressed an interest in sending a direct donation to First Base.

    Can you please let us have an address, and who to make the cheque out to?

  11. Sorry not to to have picked this up earlier Tris. Address - The First Base Agency, 6 Buccleuch St, Dumfries, DG28PX. Cheques made out to 'The First Base Agency'. Bank details. - TSB. Account name - The First Base Agency. Sort Code - 30-25-88. Account No. - 00533183. That should do it. Many thanks once again.

    1. Thanks Mark. Will post it on Munguin's Republic.