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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

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Vicar’s shock at family so poor they starve for six days

THE horror story of a Cumbrian family so poor they had to go without food for nearly a week has shocked a church community into action.

millom
Food parcels: Rev Rachel Williams from Queen Street Methodist Church gets the ball rolling with Sue Wiggins from Crown Street Baptist Church in Millom as they collect the first of the food parcels.

Millom Methodist Church is calling for volunteers to help establish a foodbank to feed the town’s most impoverished residents.

The Reverend Rachel Williams said she felt compelled to act after hearing members of one family recently had to starve themselves for six days.

The appalling story emerged at a meeting on child poverty where it was revealed Millom’s Holborn Hill and Newtown wards were the most deprived in Copeland.

“I couldn’t believe that in this day and age there were people like that in our community that were going without food,” Mrs Williams said.

“So I took that back to my church and I said there are people out there who haven’t got enough food and we need to do something about it.

“They agreed and it all kind of started from there.”

Millom’s church groups, as well as the Citizens Advice Bureau and other agencies, are working to establish a foodbank in the town some time in the new year. However, while the church members believe it is a much-needed support service, they are concerned at the extra work it would create on top of their existing charitable duties.

“What we really need is some new volunteers to come forward and offer their help because a lot of the church members already have commitments,” Mrs Williams said.

Carol Graham, the manager of Copeland’s Citizens’ Advice Bureau, described the situation as “Dickensian” and said the demand for foodbanks was spreading. She said without foodbanks some people would starve.

She said: “It’s tragic in this day and age. We’ve had elderly people in who have had no knowledge of the pension system and when their pension hasn’t come through they’ve had no food and no heating and desperation has finally driven them in here.”

The issue of food poverty is one especially close to Mrs Williams’ heart as she remembers surviving on the generosity of others for a period when she was a child.

She said: “My parents were unemployed for about 18 months when I was a little girl, but I remember we had a lady from church who would ‘accidentally’ bring two carrier bags too many of frozen food. Another lady, who had done a luncheon club at the church for 20 years, got the portions right every time until my parents were out of work and suddenly there would be three too many.”

The information night will be held at the Methodist Church in Queen Street on Tuesday, January 8, from 6pm.

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