The Rt Revd Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester, launched the Diocesan ‘Think Hunger’ Campaign in an empty kitchen in Leicester Cathedral on Ash Wednesday, 5 March. This was well-attended by clergy and members of the public, who participated in an informative question and answer session on food poverty and related issues. Bishop Tim would like to see this campaign help people become more informed about hunger and poverty in Britain and take action to make it a thing of the past. ‘Think Hunger’ is affiliated to the national ‘End Hunger Fast’ campaign.
The Bishop talked about how poverty affects over a quarter of children in Britain today. He expressed his deep concern over the huge rise in foodbanks and the number of people visiting them, most from working families. He said that with increases in food and fuel prices, the poor are getting poorer, and many have to choose between food, energy and other essentials. “It only takes one catastrophe – the roof leaks or the washing machine breaks – for people not to be able to pay their bills.
28 foodbanks in Leicester and Leicestershire were named, with the Bishop noting that some of these were in areas not usually associated with poverty. But the need is there also. The local foodbank based at St Martins House displayed a food parcel typical of what they distribute to families.
People in the Diocese of Leicester are being urged to find out more, to fast, to pray, to visit and support FareShare and their local foodbanks and to write to their MPs. Bishop Tim said it was vital that as a nation we found lasting solutions to what is a scandalous but deep-rooted and complex issue. He was clear that the Church has a role in raising the issue, encouraging debate in order that things can change. “The time has come,” he said.
The Bishop also announced his forthcoming Bishop’s Commission on Poverty. Comprising academics and local clergy, this aims seriously to understand the local context. It will then examine ways in which local communities, agencies and the Diocese, in partnership, can further address areas of need. “During visits to churches, and in conversation with partners, I am repeatedly asked what the Church can do to respond.” The Commission will hold its first hearing on 27 March. The Bishop also announced an informative evening of debate around food poverty. Chaired by the Bishop, together with a panel of politicians and other stakeholders, this will take place in the Cathedral at 7.00pm on Wednesday 12 March. Click here for more details.
The kitchen will remain in the Cathedral during Lent. People are invited to visit, reflect and pray. Informative leaflets are available, listing local foodbanks and providing some information about poverty in Britain today.