Half a million people have visited food banks since last Easter and 5,500 people were admitted to hospital in the 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.
In 2013, British authorities enacted multitude of changes to Britain’s welfare system, including a cap on the level of benefits that people who are employed are eligible to receive. Additionally, job, house and child-related benefits were merged into a single ‘universal credit’ initiative that sharply reduced the entitlements that the country’s lowest-income families are able to obtain.
In an effort reminiscent of the Circle of Protection campaign launched by religious leaders in the United States in 2011., British religious leaders have created End Hunger Fast during the coming Lenten season and beyond. "On March 5th we will begin a time of fasting while half a million regularly go hungry in Britain," said the letter from the religious leaders, urging the faithful to join them in a fast during Lent. "We urge those of all faith and none, people of good conscience, to join with us." Here is the text of the letter
|End Hunger Fast logo|
Prime Minister David Cameron disputes that the changes have created the levels of extreme hardship that the bishops suggest. "Mr. Cameron did emphasise his awareness that many families are struggling as a result of the programme, but continually highlighted that the measures were necessary in order to complete the economic recovery of the country and the transformation away from reliance on benefits," said an article in Money Expert.com
The organizers of End Hunger Fast, point out that Britain is the world's seventh largest economy, and should not be cutting off support for the most vulnerable in society. are urging the prime minister to take a closer look at the impact of the British government's policies.“We invite the Prime Minister to come and see for himself the foodbanks operating in places like Mansfield, for him to join us in a national day of fasting and reflection on April the 4th, and ultimately asking him to act to prevent the rise of hunger,” said Keith Hebden, End Hunger Fast campaign spokesman and Parish Priest for Mansfield