Bishop of Taunton expresses outrage at rise in UK hunger

Chard & Ilminster News: The Bishop of Taunton, the Rt Rev Peter Maurice. The Bishop of Taunton, the Rt Rev Peter Maurice.

THE Bishop of Taunton, the Rt Rev Peter Maurice, has signed an open letter expressing outrage at the rise in UK hunger.

The letter, published today and signed by over 40 senior faith leaders from all the major Christian denominations, including 27 Church of England Bishops, is calling for urgent political action to end what they describe as a “national crisis”.

Food banks around the UK are reporting that the number of people in need is rising to crisis point as the poorest miss out on the economic recovery.

Over half a million people in the UK have received three days’ emergency food from Trussell Trust food banks since last Easter.

Meanwhile hospital admissions for malnutrition have almost doubled to 5,500.

The letter says: “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 whose wages have stayed flat while food prices have gone up 30% in just five years.”

Following today’s published letter, Bishop Peter adds: “Our duty and moral responsibility as a church is the welfare of all people of God, and in particular the most vulnerable.

"The evidence suggests that the welfare system is failing the people it sets out to support.

"Will David Cameron take any notice of our call for urgent action? I don’t know.

"But by speaking out we hope we can make him aware of the day to day reality many families and individuals face, as seen and witnessed by clergy on the ground in the many different communities across the country.”

The letter is part of a wider grassroots campaign called End Hunger Fast, which will continue to work with faith leaders, church groups and food bank volunteers to raise awareness and compel Government to take action.

The campaign will launch a national day of fasting in April with plans to sign up supporters wanting to show sympathy for the hundreds of thousands of hungry Britons.

Comments (2)

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5:27pm Thu 20 Feb 14

pintomine says...

Whilst agreeing with the Bishop, sadly he has been let down by the Church Commissioners wasting £900000 on a new home for the new Bishop of Bath and Wells.
Whilst agreeing with the Bishop, sadly he has been let down by the Church Commissioners wasting £900000 on a new home for the new Bishop of Bath and Wells. pintomine

5:43pm Thu 20 Feb 14

SomersetBranch.SocialistParty says...

“When I feed the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor are hungry, they call me a communist” Helder Camara, Liberation Theologian

Somerset branch of the Socialist Party recently welcomed Nancy Taaffe, a member from Walthamstow branch explain her severe misgivings about food banks (posted below) which prompted a lively discussion...

Every Saturday the Anti-Cuts Union has a stall in Walthamstow campaigning against cuts. The Labour Council passed a budget that has taken £65 million away from local services. I lost my job in a library, a job which I had for over 10 years. Children and young peoples’ services have been decimated by cuts, with some services, such as careers, being cut by almost a third. The three main political parties say it wasn’t their fault, that there isn’t any money but…

…THAT’S A LIE. A report in The Guardian last year stated that there is currently £750 billion locked away in banks by the rich who see no immediate way to make a profit and so they just sit on the money and let it collect interest, £120 billion is squirrelled away through tax evasion and one thousand of the riches people in this country increased their wealth by £155 billion last year, enough to wipe out the nation’s deficit overnight.

Meanwhile my local foodbank runs a stall in a market on a Saturday next to the Anti-Cuts Union stall where they ask the poor of Walthamstow to donate tins and toiletries to the destitute of Walthamstow.

Food banks need to get political

My annoyance at foodbanks is that we are not in debt, there is money to feed everyone, and we, the poor, shouldn’t pay for a crisis we didn’t create. I understand that foodbanks are often set up by well intentioned people who want to help, but I would question whether a foodbank without politics does actually help. Poverty is not like a hurricane or a flood, it’s man made and it can be man solved.

I stood on the Town Hall steps for over a year asking Labour Councillors to set a needs budget and reject cuts but, to a man and woman they all voted for them. I stopped my local MP Stella Creasy (a big proponent of foodbanks) in the street (as I was losing my job) and asked her to make a public statement condemning cuts to libraries and children’s services but she just wouldn’t. Why? Because getting behind the consequence of cuts is far easier than fighting a preemptive battle….. if you are a career politician.

When 3 million public sector workers took industrial action last November for decent pensions to prevent poverty in old age the same MP who stands behind the foodbank stall and campaigns against poverty wouldn’t support them. Strikes me, if your simpering and crushed by poverty then you get patronised and pitied but if you stand with a straight back and lean look and assert yourself through your trade union then you get condemned. I suppose it’s the hypocrisy I can’t stand, the Councillors who voted to sack me all support foodbanks.

The smell of fresh tar

My Liverpool Grandmother would tell me stories of the poverty her family endured in the 30′s, of picking up orange peel by the side of the road to gnaw on to alleviate hunger pains or sniffing the air when fresh tar was laid on the road because it smelt like food. But she also described the humiliation that many mothers had to endure at the hands of “charitable organisations”, how it was common to have to stand in a cold church hall with children clawing at your skirts and put your case to the parish fathers as to why you should have money to survive. Often these “parish fathers” were local businessmen and factory owners who paid poverty wages to their workers and were vicious if the workers went on strike for decent pay and decent working conditions.

Rebellion against charity

The rebellion that took place in the working class after the Second World War was not just a reaction to the horror of war but was a revolution against the humiliation of poor relief and welfare administration built on “charity”.

I suppose if foodbanks get political and mobilised those they feed to get organised, then I could support them. If, like the unemployed movements of the 30s, they not only fed people but stirred them up to fight for revolutionary change, then I would get right behind them.

If I could sum up my opposition to charity without politics I would have to do it with the help of the inimitable Oscar Wilde who said:

“We are often told that the poor are grateful for charity. Some of them are, no doubt, but the best amongst the poor are never grateful. They are ungrateful, discontented, disobedient, and rebellious. They are quite right to be so. Charity they feel to be a ridiculously inadequate mode of partial restitution, or a sentimental dole, usually accompanied by some impertinent attempt on the part of the sentimentalist to tyrannise over their private lives. …Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue”

…Long live disobedience!

For more information, or to join the Socialist Party, visit: www.socialistparty.o
rg.uk
“When I feed the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor are hungry, they call me a communist” Helder Camara, Liberation Theologian Somerset branch of the Socialist Party recently welcomed Nancy Taaffe, a member from Walthamstow branch explain her severe misgivings about food banks (posted below) which prompted a lively discussion... Every Saturday the Anti-Cuts Union has a stall in Walthamstow campaigning against cuts. The Labour Council passed a budget that has taken £65 million away from local services. I lost my job in a library, a job which I had for over 10 years. Children and young peoples’ services have been decimated by cuts, with some services, such as careers, being cut by almost a third. The three main political parties say it wasn’t their fault, that there isn’t any money but… …THAT’S A LIE. A report in The Guardian last year stated that there is currently £750 billion locked away in banks by the rich who see no immediate way to make a profit and so they just sit on the money and let it collect interest, £120 billion is squirrelled away through tax evasion and one thousand of the riches people in this country increased their wealth by £155 billion last year, enough to wipe out the nation’s deficit overnight. Meanwhile my local foodbank runs a stall in a market on a Saturday next to the Anti-Cuts Union stall where they ask the poor of Walthamstow to donate tins and toiletries to the destitute of Walthamstow. Food banks need to get political My annoyance at foodbanks is that we are not in debt, there is money to feed everyone, and we, the poor, shouldn’t pay for a crisis we didn’t create. I understand that foodbanks are often set up by well intentioned people who want to help, but I would question whether a foodbank without politics does actually help. Poverty is not like a hurricane or a flood, it’s man made and it can be man solved. I stood on the Town Hall steps for over a year asking Labour Councillors to set a needs budget and reject cuts but, to a man and woman they all voted for them. I stopped my local MP Stella Creasy (a big proponent of foodbanks) in the street (as I was losing my job) and asked her to make a public statement condemning cuts to libraries and children’s services but she just wouldn’t. Why? Because getting behind the consequence of cuts is far easier than fighting a preemptive battle….. if you are a career politician. When 3 million public sector workers took industrial action last November for decent pensions to prevent poverty in old age the same MP who stands behind the foodbank stall and campaigns against poverty wouldn’t support them. Strikes me, if your simpering and crushed by poverty then you get patronised and pitied but if you stand with a straight back and lean look and assert yourself through your trade union then you get condemned. I suppose it’s the hypocrisy I can’t stand, the Councillors who voted to sack me all support foodbanks. The smell of fresh tar My Liverpool Grandmother would tell me stories of the poverty her family endured in the 30′s, of picking up orange peel by the side of the road to gnaw on to alleviate hunger pains or sniffing the air when fresh tar was laid on the road because it smelt like food. But she also described the humiliation that many mothers had to endure at the hands of “charitable organisations”, how it was common to have to stand in a cold church hall with children clawing at your skirts and put your case to the parish fathers as to why you should have money to survive. Often these “parish fathers” were local businessmen and factory owners who paid poverty wages to their workers and were vicious if the workers went on strike for decent pay and decent working conditions. Rebellion against charity The rebellion that took place in the working class after the Second World War was not just a reaction to the horror of war but was a revolution against the humiliation of poor relief and welfare administration built on “charity”. I suppose if foodbanks get political and mobilised those they feed to get organised, then I could support them. If, like the unemployed movements of the 30s, they not only fed people but stirred them up to fight for revolutionary change, then I would get right behind them. If I could sum up my opposition to charity without politics I would have to do it with the help of the inimitable Oscar Wilde who said: “We are often told that the poor are grateful for charity. Some of them are, no doubt, but the best amongst the poor are never grateful. They are ungrateful, discontented, disobedient, and rebellious. They are quite right to be so. Charity they feel to be a ridiculously inadequate mode of partial restitution, or a sentimental dole, usually accompanied by some impertinent attempt on the part of the sentimentalist to tyrannise over their private lives. …Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue” …Long live disobedience! For more information, or to join the Socialist Party, visit: www.socialistparty.o rg.uk SomersetBranch.SocialistParty

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