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05 October 2010

Launch of new food banks highlights problem of poverty in the UK

Launch of new food banks highlights problem of poverty in the UK

It may be difficult to believe, but many people in the UK do not have enough money to feed themselves - a situation which has prompted Christians to respond in practical ways. Two new food banks started by churches and charities have been launched this autumn, one in London and one in Norwich.  

The London food bank is operating from a base in Tyers Street, Vauxhall, and is run by members of the ChristChurch London congregation. The building was given by London City Mission, a Christian outreach to the people of London which this year celebrates its 175th anniversary.

Project leader Gemma Hutchison says that since London is an expensive place to live, often people have clothing and shelter but not enough money to pay for food. "It's so much easier to see poverty in other countries," she said. "But the problem is the poverty here in the UK is unseen." The food bank is currently accepting food donations from residents and businesses to distribute to the needy, who are residents referred by various organisations including social services.

Christians in Norwich have recognised similar problems in their area. Norwich Foodbank, which launched on 4 October, aims to provide a lifeline to those in the city who fall suddenly on hard times and are unable to afford food.

The charity will hand out food to people in crisis from two bases - Mile Cross Methodist Church on Aylsham Road and Norwich Christian Resource Centre on Redwell Street.

Grant Habershon, project co-ordinator for the food bank, pointed out that while many families can survive on their incomes, they have no financial safety net they can rely on when they face a crisis such as bereavement or redundancy. "Such situations can quickly deteriorate, leading to relationship breakdown, house repossession or worse," he said.

Mr Habershon is asking local residents, schools and businesses to donate food on a regular basis, and to offer storage space to meet the demand for food boxes. "The charity works on the basic premise that the people of Norwich care about their neighbours and will help local people in crisis," he said.

The Christian charity's patrons are celebrity chef Delia Smith, the Bishop of Norwich, The Rt Rev Graham James, and the Rt Rev Michael Evans, Roman Catholic Bishop of East Anglia.

For more information on the London food bank and about how to donate food, email andy@christchurchlondon.org or visit www.christchurchlondon.org.

To volunteer, offer storage space or to find out more about Norwich FoodBank, call  01603 617905 or 01603 617905 or email info@eauk.org. For more information about the food bank, visit www.norwichfoodbank.co.uk.