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16 April 2014

Church leaders unite in biggest call on food poverty yet

Church leaders unite in biggest call on food poverty yet

The Evangelical Alliance, more than 600 church leaders and 46 bishops are demanding urgent action on poverty from the government in light of astounding UK hunger figures released today.

The Trussell Trust published statistics showing that more than 900,000 people received three days' emergency food aid in the 2013/14 financial year, nearly triple the number helped in the previous year and the biggest rise in use ever recorded.

Steve Clifford, the Alliance's general director, said: "The main political parties in the UK must be as concerned, as all of us are, that a section of our population is facing crisis levels of hunger which we normally associate with countries in the developing world.

"It's deeply disturbing to learn that this situation has been allowed to happen right here on our doorsteps. Indeed, last year more than 5,500 people were admitted to UK hospitals suffering with malnutrition. No one should be allowed to go hungry in Britain."

A new campaign letter calls for action and supports the End Hunger Fast campaign, marking the biggest ever Christian intervention on UK food poverty in years.

Signatories from every major Christian denomination in the UK acknowledge the situation as "shocking" and asks the government to "commit fully to the independent inquiry on the rise of UK hunger".

The supporters are vicars, reverends, pastors and other Christian leaders and represent a large body of the Church all angry at seeing food poverty as a reality in their local foodbanks, communities and churches up and down the country.

The government has yet to act on the original letter the Alliance also supported, signed by 27 bishops in February, or acknowledge a 75,000 strong End UK Hunger petition, delivered to Downing Street last month ahead of the March 2014 budget.

Copies of the End Hunger Fast campaign letter will be delivered to the constituency offices of David Cameron (Witney), Ed Miliband (Doncaster) and Nick Clegg (Sheffield) by three Christian leaders, who have been fasting for 40 days over Easter and Lent.  To mark the completion of their fast and to draw attention to UK hunger, an End Hunger Fast vigil is taking place in London at 6pm

Keith Hebden, from the End Hunger Fast campaign, said: "The government ignores this call at its peril. I have never before seen religious leaders so united on an issue and I hope our collective words and prayers reach the ears of politicians who have the power to act. All they need now is some courage, faith and compassion and we might just build a society where no one need go hungry in Britain."

Trussell Trust CEO David McAuley said: "I have only eaten one meal a day for the last 40 days, and it is tough. Hunger hurts. And it doesn't just hurt, you can't sleep or concentrate and it affects your health. The difference is I had a choice.

"We are so encouraged to see church leaders across the UK standing up on behalf of the poorest, the growing public support for action against UK hunger is what gives us hope for change. We must not give up."

Evangelical Alliance mention in Guardian article