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Tuesday, 28 July 2015

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Rise in use of foodbank sparks call for change

AS more hungry people seek help from Copeland’s foodbank, a local church leader has backed an initiative calling for change.

By Sarah Robinson

Rev Richard Teal, Methodist chair of Cumbria district, is one of 43 Anglican, Methodist and Quaker church leaders who have expressed their concerns in an open letter published in The Daily Mirror.

They blame “cutbacks to and failures in the benefit system” for forcing people to use food banks. They say there is a “national crisis” as 500,000 people have visited foodbanks since Easter last year.

Locally, the North Lakes Foodbank says the number of people seeking its help has almost doubled in the past year.

Rev Teal said: “I believe very strongly that the wealth and poverty gap in our society is increasing with our government’s welfare reforms.

“The letter is not party political but it shows the concerns that a number of church leaders are feeling.”

He said: “I want to applaud what the people are doing in creating foodbanks and running them but we don’t seem to be addressing the reason why we need them. We are the seventh richest country in the world, it’s absolutely shameful that we need foodbanks in our society at all.”

He added: “I hope the open letter will help to create a dialogue between the government, the church leaders and other charitable organisations about how we can create a more fair and just society.”

There is a stigma attached to those people who seek help from foodbanks which needs to be tackled, he added.

According to the North Lakes Foodbank, 6,329 adults and children sought help between January 31 last year to January 31 this year, compared to 3,352 the previous year.

Copeland’s wards with the highest figures were: Harbour, 397 people (359 the previous year); Sandwith, 276 (200); Mirehouse 250 (155) and Distington 224 (78).

Jessie Hendry, project manager for The North Lakes Foodbank, said: “We had another 100 per cent rise in our demand in 2013 feeding 6,839 people last year and currently we are giving out around three tonnes of food a month.”

Those seeking help include people in financial hardship as a result of benefit changes, benefit delays, low income and those who have work hours reduced or people in crisis who have their own businesses.

The foodbank has over 100 volunteers, 110 voucher holders and distribution centres in Whitehaven, Cockermouth, Wigton, Workington and Maryport.

Rev Dave Harkison, minister at Whitehaven’s United Reformed Church and foodbank voucher holder, agrees with the letter signed by church leaders.

He said URC church members regularly donate food which is taken to the New Life Church in Irish Street, Whitehaven for distribution.

“One of the primary functions of the church is to look at how we can help others. Our church wants to help those who can’t help themselves,” he said.

Have your say

so when milliband threatings energy companies with a freeze on prices,he never mentioned that council tax is more expensive but says nowt,never mind that goes towards his masters in local gov,,,nowt but a hypocrite.

Posted by cynical west cumbrian on 2 March 2014 at 19:38

RE: Charlie Brown: Do you really believe that or did IDS tell you that? Do you really think somebody would *want* to get food from a food bank? it's hardly a five star menu is it? Also, what benefit?...The one they take away from people? The one they force people off without giving them help or treating them like a HUMAN BEING. I find it apt that the church is right next to the council building.
Also, since everybody is so *concerned* about money / benefits, well if they tried helping you a little more e.g at the Job Centre then you wouldn't need to be on it. All they do it trip you up, give you a sanction, take away your benefit.
You're supposed to help people, not kick them while they're DOWN. Do you expect people to starve? People aren't poor or desperate enough for some people are they? Just leave them to suffer eh? Believe what you want to believe.

Posted by Miss C on 2 March 2014 at 01:58

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