End hunger is faith leaders' call to Chancellor

By staff writers
19 Mar 2014

Yesterday, as the UK Chancellor finalised his 2014 Budget, leaders of different faiths united against food poverty.

Their message to George Osborne was to use the Budget to end hunger in Britain today.

Fasters and their supporters, including Christian clergy, went to Downing Street as part of the End Hunger Fast initiative, backed by Ekklesia and many others, highlighting the scandal of foodbanks in an unequal Britain which remains the word's sixth largest economy.

The campaign delivered a petition started by activist and writer Ms Jack Monroe. It is supported not just by churches and faith groups, but by theologian Vicky Beeching and many secular and non-religious people too.

It has been signed by over 70,000 people in just two weeks, including Bishops from the Church of England and many other faith leaders, who are using the Lent period of reflection and re-prioritising to point to the need for a change of direction in the economy and society.

Church Action on Poverty director Niall Cooper reinforced the call on George Osborne to "deliver an 'End Hunger Budget'".

"With upwards of half a million people forced to turn to foodbanks in the past six months alone it is imperative that the Chancellor finds ways to ease the pressure on household budgets for all those in communities up and down the country who are struggling to make ends meet, and to literally put food on the table for themselves and their families - whether they are in work or not," he said.

Over the past year the numbers being fed by that one small ­foodbank in ­Westminster, in the shadow of the UK Houses of Parliament, have gone up over 50 per cent.

The total went up from 652 people in the previous year to 1,038 people up to December 2013.

The Daily Mirror newspaper, which is backing the End Hunger Fast, had called on the Chancellor raise the minimum wage to a living wage, to tackle food and energy prices for ordinary people, and to face up to the true impact of welfare changes on the most vulnerable in society.

Ekklesia associate the Rev Keith Hebden is completing a full 40-day fast in solidarity wit those who are suffering most in austerity Britain.

* End Hunger Fast: http://endhungerfast.co.uk

* Ekklesia's 2014 Budget coverage: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/budget2014

* On Twitter, follow the hashtag: #Budget2014

[Ekk/3]

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