This is the text of a letter published today by over 40 senior Church leaders in The Daily Mirror to mark the launch of the End Hunger Fast campaign.
It has been covered in the National News on both BBC and ITV tonight:
Sir – Britain is the world’s seventh largest economy and yet people are going hungry.
Half a million people have visited foodbanks in the UK since last Easter and 5,500 people were admitted to hospital in the UK for malnutrition last year.
One in five mothers report regularly skipping meals to better feed their children, and ever more families are just one unexpected bill away from waking up with empty cupboards.
We often hear talk of hard choices. Surely few can be harder than that faced by the tens of thousands of older people who must “heat or eat” each winter, harder than those faced by families who’s wages have stayed flat while food prices have gone up 30% in just five years.
Yet beyond even this we must, as a society, face up to the fact that over half of people using foodbanks have been put in that situation by cut backs to and failures in the benefit system, whether it be payment delays or punitive sanctions.
On March 5th Lent will begin. The Christian tradition has long been at this time to fast, and by doing so draw closer to our neighbour and closer to God.
On March 5th we will begin a time of fasting while half a million regularly go hungry in Britain. We urge those of all faith and none, people of good conscience, to join with us.
There is an acute moral imperative to act. Hundreds of thousands of people are doing so already, as they set up and support foodbanks across the UK. But this is a national crisis, and one we must rise to.
We call on government to do its part: acting to investigate food markets that are failing, to make sure that work pays, and to ensure that the welfare system provides a robust last line of defence against hunger.
The letter is signed by 27 Anglican Bishops as well as leading figures in the Methodist, URC and Quaker churches.
End Hunger Fast launches March 5th (Ash Wednesday) and will be mobilising thousands for a national day of fasting in sympathy with half a million hungry Britons.
Chris Mould, Chairman of The Trussell Trust – the charity which runs a network of 400 foodbanks says:
“That hundreds of thousands of men, women and children living in the seventh richest country in the world are being forced to seek help simply in order to eat is unacceptable. In January 2014 alone Trussell Trust foodbanks gave three days’ food to 85,775 people, including 30,670 children. Some have gone without food for days.
The foodbank debate should not be about party politics, it should be about recognising the reality of what’s happening right now in our nation, listening to the voices of the people who struggle to feed their families. We need to wake up to the hunger on our doorsteps, and ask urgent, in depth questions about why this is happening and then be brave enough to take action to stop it. We’d urge people to add their voice to the call to end hunger, fast.”
Keith Hebden, End Hunger Fast campaign spokesman and Parish Priest for Mansfield said:
“We invite the Prime Minister to come and see for himself the foodbanks operating in places like Mansfield, for him to join us in a national day of fasting and reflection on April the 4th, and ultimately asking him to act to prevent the rise of hunger.”
Sign up to join the campaign: www.endhungerfast.co.uk
2 thoughts on “Church leaders call for the UK to “End Hunger Fast” this Lent”
I was heartened by the vigour of the government’s response, what the church leaders said has obviously stung hard or they would not have responded so fiercely. Hopefully they will stop being so defensive and afraid and start listening to people, we can pray so anyhow.