We here at Christians on the Left are delighted to see that an idea we originally suggested has picked up so much traction.
The fast is something we discussed with a number of people over the last few months and today the media have picked up on the campaign through a letter signed by numerous Church of England bishops on hunger, foodbanks and welfare. We thought you would welcome sight of the text of the letter itself, and some background on its origins.
The letter, which appeared in today's Daily Mirror, was coordinated by the 'End Hunger Fast' campaign. The campaign is supported by the Trussell Trust, Church Action Poverty and the Quakers. The campaign is calling for a national day of fasting on 4th April, to highlight the plight of those in the UK who are experiencing hunger. The three main requests to Government of the campaign are explained in the open letter, signed by CofE bishops, as well as Methodist, URC and Quaker leaders:
"We call on government to do its part: acting to investigate food markets that are failing, to make sure that work pays, and to ensure that the welfare system provides a robust last line of defence against hunger."
More information can be found on the End Hunger Fast website, here: http://endhungerfast.co.uk/
The full text of letter, with its signatories, is as follows:
Britain is the world’s seventh largest economy and yet people are going hungry.
Half a million people have visited foodbanks in the UK since last Easter and 5,500 people were admitted to hospital in the UK for malnutrition last year.
One in five mothers report regularly skipping meals to better feed their children , and ever more families are just one unexpected bill away from waking up with empty cupboards.
We often hear talk of hard choices. Surely few can be harder than that faced by the tens of thousands of older people who must “heat or eat” each winter, harder than those faced by families who’s wages have stayed flat while food prices have gone up 30% in just five years.
Yet beyond even this we must, as a society, face up to the fact that over half of people using foodbanks have been put in that situation by cut backs to and failures in the benefit system, whether it be payment delays or punitive sanctions.
On March 5th Lent will begin. The Christian tradition has long been at this time to fast, and by doing so draw closer to our neighbour and closer to God. On March 5th we will begin a time of fasting while half a million regularly go hungry in Britain. We urge those of all faith and none, people of good conscience, to join with us.
There is an acute moral imperative to act. Hundreds of thousands of people are doing so already, as they set up and support foodbanks across the UK. But this is a national crisis, and one we must rise to.
We call on government to do its part: acting to investigate food markets that are failing, to make sure that work pays, and to ensure that the welfare system provides a robust last line of defence against hunger.
Join us at www.endhungerfast.co.uk
Rt Rev Stephen Patten, Bishop of Wakefield
Rt Rev David Walker, Bishop of Manchester
Rt Rev Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester
Rt Rev Andy John, Bishop of Bangor
Rt Rev Tony Porter, Bishop of Sherwood
Rt Rev Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham
Rt Rev Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham
Rt Rev Alan Smith, Bishop of Shrewsbury
Rt Rev Nick Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury
Rt Rev Tim Thornton, Bishop of Truro
Rt Rev John Pritchard, Bishop of Oxford
Rt Rev Steven Croft, Bishop of Sheffield
Rt Rev Jonathan Gledhill, Bishop of Lichfield
Rt Rev Michael Perham, Bishop of Gloucester
Rt Rev Alastair Redfern, Bishop of Derby
Rt Rev Lee Rayfield, Bishop of Swindon
Rt Rev James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester
Rt Rev Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester
Rt Rev Mike Hill, Bishop of Bristol
Rt Rev Martin Wharton, Bishop of Newcastle
Rt Rev Peter Maurice, Bishop of Taunton
Rt Rev Gregory Cameron, Bishop of St Asaph
Rt Rev Peter Burrows, Bishop of Doncaster
Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford
Methodist Chairs of District
Loraine Mellor, Nottingham and Derby
John Hellyer, South East
Jenny Impey , London
Michaela Young, London
Stuart Jordan, London
Bruce Thompson, Lincolnshire
Lionel Osborn, Newcastle Upon Tyne
Revd Richard Teal, Cumbria
United Reform Church Moderators
Paul Whittle, Eastern Synod
Simon Walkling, National Synod of Wales
Clare Wood, Assistant General Secretary for Quaker Peace and Social Justice
Helen Drewery, General Secretary for Quaker Peace and Social Justice
Today there has been a letter published in, of all newspapers, the Daily Mirror! from a number of Bishops on the subject of food banks. It would be interesting to know, – have they or anybody else bothered to find out – how many of those using food banks are smokers, drink alcohol , have expensive t.vs with Skye, mobile phones, I pads and other state of the art techno. stuff, to say nothing of running cars etc. Before the proliferation of food banks is used as a measure of need, perhaps a proper survey of what the recipients of food charity actually spend their money on ought to be properly undertaken by unbiased and non-political people, I think the result might be enlightening. We all have to decide on what our priorities are and food should come before non-essential luxuries. Simple eating may not be very exciting but it will provide the necessary nurishment that we need to live. It is obvious that the more food banks there are, and the ease of access, will create a market, just as the more roads we build generates more traffic.