As a person living comfortably in retirement from paid employment, I was shocked to learn that 13 million people in the UK are currently living in poverty. Even more alarming is the fact that 50 per cent of the impoverished are from working households.
Recession followed by the coalition government’s policy of austerity has led to flat-lining incomes or redundancy for many. Increasing food and fuel prices, higher rents, reforms to the benefit and tax systems have all conspired to put intolerable pressure on some of the UK’s most vulnerable people. Many are now being forced to resort to food banks to feed themselves and their families...........unthinkable even five years ago.
As a Christian, I was delighted to discover the leading organisation in the food bank movement is a Christian charity called the Trussell Trust. Since its inauguration in 2004 it has developed a network of 200 food banks, with a further 250 planned by 2015. The Trust currently operates 10 food banks in Scotland.
In a recent interview with the BBC, Chris Mould, executive chairperson of the Trust revealed that food banks have become a lifeline for a growing number of families. He reckons every community should have a food bank so that no one in the country should ever need to go hungry. Trussell Trust food banks provide local people in a crisis situation with at least three days’ supply of nutritionally-balanced food.
According to the BBC report, “two out of three households have no savings so unemployment, an unexpected repair bill, a cut in hours or overtime mean the household books simply won't balance any more. Again and again, food banks meet people who have been going without proper food for days - often so that their children can get a square meal...........................Thousands of frontline care professionals across the country use food banks week in week out to prevent people they are working with from falling into a downward spiral that so often could lead to them losing their home, suffering family breakdown, getting caught up in crime or facing serious mental and physical health problems.”
The Bible has a lot to say about food and the hungry. Jesus’ brother James in his Epistle points out the key relationship between a person’s faith and its practical outworking:
“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,’ and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has not works, is dead.”
The Christians who operate the Trussell Trust have obviously taken a leaf out of James’ letter. The organisation’s motto is ‘Restoring Dignity and Reviving Hope’.....that’s something I can support. See
www.trusselltrust.org and make a donation.