Bishop joins other faith leaders in highlighting the issues of Food Poverty
Bishop Richard to fast on March 18th as part of a national campaign to End Hunger Fast.
Bishop Richard is joining several other Bishops and national faith leaders, celebrities and food bank volunteers in a “fast relay” throughout Lent. The fast follows a call from a new grassroots campaign - End Hunger Fast – for the UK government to act on Britain’s growing hunger crisis.
Bishop Richard is keenly aware from churches around the region of the growing crisis with those going hungry. Attendance at Foodbanks across our region has steadily increased and as austerity grips there is an increasing need to highlight the underlying issues.
Bishop Richard said “the scandal of food poverty is something churches across our diocese tackle daily. End Hunger Fast is a wakeup call to society, politicians and leaders that we can no longer get away with tackling the symptoms of food poverty. Now is the time to properly protect the vulnerable from being failed by a society that should have resources to make sure no one goes hungry”
Food banks around the UK are reporting that the number of people needing food aid is still rising, as the poorest miss out on the economic recovery.
Figures published by leading food aid charity Trussell Trust reveal that between April and December last year, 32,000 people in our region were fed by Trussell Trust foodbanks. Nationally, this figure was over 600,000. Adding to this picture is the steep rise in malnutrition admissions to local hospitals. Nationally admissions are up from 3,000 to 5,500 since 2008.
Over half of people using food banks have been put in that situation by cut backs to, and failures in, the benefit system – whether it be payment delays or punitive sanctions.
In response to this, food bank volunteers, church groups and poverty activists around the UK have united to launch End Hunger Fast. The grassroots campaign brings people from across the country together to call on the Government to meet its duty of care to UK citizens and take immediate action on welfare, wages and food markets – three of the biggest contributors to the problem.
Supporting church groups, many of whom are also involved with running food banks, plan to sign up thousands of supporters for a national day of fasting.
Professor Dowler from Warwick University came out this week in favour of the faith leaders’ campaign. This will be considered a major move given her role as author of the Department of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Affairs report into Household Food Security published last week. [Prof Dowler said,
“For many food insecure households, asking for food assistance is a strategy of last resort, and the international evidence suggests many who need help do not ask for it. There is growing urgency to proclaim the realities of many people’s lives, and local churches and other faith groups can work with local government to provide this voice.
We need wider adoption of the Living Wage and proper work contracts, so that people can have sustainable livelihoods, rather than charity. Most of all, we need to lament a wealthy country which has allowed a relatively small, long-standing problem to become an urgent, crying shame.
I commend the End Hunger Fast to you, as a way of lamenting, and standing alongside those who struggle, while speaking truth to those in power.”