Christians must be at the forefront of ensuring that no-one in our society has to rely on foodbanks, the Bishop of Middlesbrough has said, by constantly challenging and changing the drivers of poverty.
Bishop Terence Drainey noted that churches play a “crucial role” in supporting society’s most vulnerable and throughout the Covid-19 pandemic this need for such support has increased as many families suffer the economic impacts of it.
However, he pointed out that support is not enough, as the faithful must look for ways to eradicate poverty and create a fair society for all.
“It is so important that – while continuing to extend compassion and crisis support to people facing crisis in our communities – we also seek to challenge and change the drivers of poverty that are putting so many people in this position,” he said. “This means tackling unjust systems that trap people in poverty, and working to build a fairer society in which everyone can flourish.
“As Christians we need to be asking what it would take to bring about a future in which food banks are no longer needed, and doing everything we can to help bring this into being.”
Bishop Drainey’s call comes as the Trussell Trust, the UK’s largest food bank charity, said the huge number of people needing to turn to charities and churches for the essentials is an injustice.
Trussell Trust food banks gave out 1.2 million emergency food parcels between April and September last year and the pandemic has dramatically increased the need for emergency food provision.
In the first six months of the pandemic, the need for food banks in the Trussell Trust network increased by 47 per cent, with 2,600 emergency food parcels provided for children every day on average.
Many Catholic churches are actively involved with the Trussell Trust’s Foodbank Network and more than 20 of its food bank centres are hosted by Catholic churches. It is now encouraging churches to help build a hunger free future and is inviting Church leaders to a series of online events to find out more about how this can be achieved.
“I am so grateful for the Christian community’s involvement in our work, which has been crucial in making it possible for food banks to continue to serve people at a time when it is so badly needed,” said Emma Revie, chief executive at the Trussell Trust.
“But it isn’t right that so many people should be forced to turn to charities and churches for food and other basics. Rather, as we emerge from the pandemic, we need to find the courage and energy to build a different future – one in which food banks are no longer needed, because everyone can afford the essentials.
“Churches have a vital part to play in helping us to bring this future into being, and I am so looking forward to connecting with Church leaders at these events. Together, I know we can continue to create real change.”
The Trussell Trust will be hosting online events for Church leaders in Northern Ireland on 27th April; England on 28th April; Wales on 8th June; and Scotland on 10th June. To find out more, see: trusselltrust.org/big-breakfast.
Picture: A volunteer helps out at a food bank amid the Covid-19 pandemic.