Evesham and District Justice and Equality Network (EDJEN) have just added their voices to the growing number of churches and others expressing alarm at the explosive growth in demand for food banks. Here’s an announcement from EDJEN about their new resource, Why Food Banks in Evesham?
Representatives of Evesham Churches and other concerned bodies were present to launch a new report ‘Why Food Banks in Evesham??’ at Caring Hands in the Vale Christian Centre. The report includes stories of desperate people needing help from churches and other agencies here in the Vale. One man said the Caring Hands foodbank saved his life. Yet this increasing poverty is hardly mentioned by those seeking our votes.
Revd David Haslam, EDJEN Convenor, said the rising number of people using Foodbanks needs to be addressed by all parties in the run up to the Election. He quoted reports from the national Churches which said that children were living in fear of visits by bailiffs when their parents could not pay the Council Tax – which is now charged even to those drawing benefits.
Five major Churches – Methodist, Baptist, United Reformed, the Church in Wales and the Church of Scotland – have joined together to support a recent report from the Select Committee on Work and Pensions calling for an urgent review of the effects of benefit sanctions. Vulnerable people are being left with no means of support. A further report by Psychologists Against Austerity said it is those with mental health problems who were most affected by sanctions.
Members of the EDJEN Foodbanks Forum include representatives from the Church of England, the Methodists, Baptists, Vale Christian Centre, the Trussell Trust, Rooftop Housing and the Citizens Advice Bureau. All are concerned about the increasing number of people in poverty having to be helped, and referred to food banks. They note that basic benefits of £72 per week are very little to live on, especially over a long period of time, people are falling into debt. Members cited clients who have only £5 a week for food after they have paid all their other bills.
Meanwhile, said Revd Haslam, “The rich are growing richer all the time. Bankers whose banks are in disgrace are taking home millions a year, and the richest 1,000 people in the UK have increased their total wealth to over £500 billion. This kind of inequality undermines any sense of us being one human family. It must be unacceptable to any Christian – and all right-thinking people, of all faiths and none.”