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End Hunger UK campaigners

Everyone should have access to good food. Nobody should need to go to bed hungry.

Those simple values were the driving force behind End Hunger UK, an inspiring and hope-filled campaign that brought together thousands of people from 2016 to 2019.

Throughout this year, we are telling the stories featured in the 2022 Dignity, Agency, Power calendar, and April takes us to this photo, from one of the campaign’s most uplifting events.

End Hunger UK campaigners

How the campaign began

The End Hunger UK campaign was born from an almost universal anger and discomfort. All over the country, people and communities had seen the sudden and very steep rise in food poverty. Hunger is not new, but the scale and extent of it, and the way in which food aid had become an alarmingly routine part of society, felt unprecedented.

Charities, church groups, researchers and groups of people all over the UK joined forces, to see if they could pool their resources and power.

Over the lifetime of the campaign, thousands of people took part, writing to politicians, taking part in days of action, lobbying for policy change and simply standing up to say that hunger is unacceptable in a wealthy country like this.

Joining forces and singing together

It was very deliberately a coalition campaign. We know we can make more progress when, instead of talking over each other at key moments, we sing in chorus together.

That was very aptly illustrated at a campaign launch event at Sheffield Cathedral, pictured here, when Britain’s first food bank choir led the calls for change.

What we need in the long term

Lasting change requires Government leadership. Since this campaign, the pandemic and rising living costs have swept many more people into deep, deep difficulty. The need for Government action remains irrefutable.  

What we need is a national strategy to end hunger by 2030, and we need a clear roadmap involving all Government departments, to guide all Government policy in the coming years.

Reasons to remain hopeful

That won’t be easy, but the widespread support for End Hunger UK and the dynamic way it engaged people give reasons for hope. As a result of the campaign, Westminster began funding support for low-income families during school holidays for the first time, and also agreed to finally begin monitoring household food insecurity, an essential foundation stone for any serious attempts to solve it.

Attempts to end hunger in the UK continue. Hundreds of thousands of people continue to volunteer in or donate to neighbourhood projects, and the case for lasting Government action continues to grow.

Everyone should have access to good food. Nobody should need to go to bed hungry.

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What is the Right To Food?

Do you share our vision of a UK in which everyone can live a full life, free from poverty? Do you want to work as part of a team bringing about meaningful change? This role offers the opportunity to pilot our Speaking Truth to Power programme.

Our vision is that the UK can and must be transformed into a country where everyone can live a full life, free from poverty. Poverty robs people of dignity, freedom and hope, of power over their own lives. We believe that our vision – an end to poverty in the UK – can become a reality.

As a member of the Church Action on Poverty staff team, the Development Coordinator is expected to contribute towards achieving the organisation’s core strategic goal of building a more powerful social movement rooted in principles of dignity, agency and power, committed to realising this vision together.

The post-holder is responsible for piloting a new ‘Speaking Truth to Power’ programme to develop a network of leaders with lived experience across the UK.

They will work with local grassroots organisations to co-deliver a new capacity building programme that will bring together lived experience leaders ensuring the anti-poverty movement and strategy is led by people who experience poverty.

This is a 35-hour-a-week role for working from home or our offices in Salford Quays. The salary is £31,346–£35,745 dependent on experience, plus a 10% employer’s pension contribution and generous holiday entitlements.

Closing date: Thursday 16 June 2022 at 10:00am

Interview date: Week commencing 27 June 2022 via Zoom

We actively welcome applications from people belonging to all faiths and none.

Please apply using our application form, available below. CVs will not be considered.

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Cost of living crisis: 6 useful church responses

A silhouette shot of a church, with the setting sun visible through its steeple

How can churches respond to the cost of living crisis?

That’s what many church-goers are asking, as bills soar and incomes are squeezed.

This year, many people will go perilously cold, go hungry, and become isolated and destitute. 

In a compassionate, rich country, this should be unthinkable. So, what can we do? 

A silhouette shot of a church, with the setting sun visible through its steeple

Here are six ways that your church can respond positively and effectively. These suggestions will go a little way to easing the crisis for people in your community and/or shortening the crisis for everyone.

1: Speak up

The recent spring statement did not deliver anywhere near what households on low incomes require. We must all keep calling for change, and this will become particularly important ahead of the next budget in the autumn. 

You could write to your local MP or MPs, urging them to support an increase in welfare incomes that matches the rate of inflation. Anything less means people on the lowest incomes are facing a real-terms cut, and at the worst possible time. 

If you’re not able to coordinate actions like this, then please encourage your congregation members to sign up to Church Action on Poverty’s email list, so they can join in national actions.

2: Listen

Ensure you are truly hearing from people in poverty in your community and have ways to ensure that conversations take place. Mistakes are often made (and resources misdirected) when people or organisations assume what is needed, rather than listening to people with lived experience of complex issues. 

Forming real relationships and having meaningful conversations are essential. 

What is your church doing beyond the Sunday services to meet and hear from local people? Many churches this year are organising pilgrimage on the margins events, which can be one way to start this process. Perhaps you could too…

3: Give

We must always press for lasting change to tackle the root causes of poverty, to bring about long-lasting change. We continue to do that, but right now, we are also asking for donations to help alleviate the immediate emergency facing people up and down the country.

Your church may have its own project that people can donate to, to ensure people in greatest need are helped. If not, donations to our emergency appeal will help partner projects around the country to improve food access for people on low incomes. 

4: Repair dignity, hope and choice

Donations to the above appeal will help Your Local Pantry members. Perhaps you could go a step further, and either support your nearest Pantry on an ongoing basis, or set one up yourself.

Pantries soften the blow of high living costs, and create the conditions where communities can grow and thrive together. There are now more than 65 around the UK, making a huge tangible difference to people’s lives. 

5: Know who else can help

People in acute financial crisis will often need specialist support and advice. Your church team cannot possibly know everything, so ensure instead that you know where people can go in your community for expertise. Speak to local organisations like citizens’ advice, your local CVS, your local authority and other charities. Gather contact details and information leaflets, so you can be a useful pointer to people who turn to you. 

6: Build on what has worked

Communities rallied in an incredibly positive and proactive way when the pandemic began. Many groups of neighbours set up WhatsApp groups, and perhaps your church found new ways to keep in touch with local people. 

Don’t let that go.

Those support systems and networks can be invaluable again, as people and communities find the ground beneath their feet giving way. Be where you are needed.  

 

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Support for the Right To Food campaign is growing

The Right To Food campaign is in the news a lot at the moment. But what is it, and what does it call for?

You may not know it, but everybody in the UK has a right to adequate food.

In 1976, the UK Government made a binding commitment under international human rights law to secure the human right to adequate food for everyone in the UK.

But… that commitment has never been enshrined into law. Food access remains very insecure and fragile for millions of people.

Attention on the issue has grown rapidly of late.

Where did the Right To Food idea come from?

There have been calls for many years for the UK to enact its 1976 commitment. Those calls have been growing for several years. The End Hunger UK campaign, for instance, called for the Westminster Government to recognise the Right To Food and ensure it was being met. Sustain has produced compelling arguments for action in recent years.

Support for the Right To Food campaign is growing

Why is Right To Food in the news now?

Things have moved quickly in 2021. The Fans Supporting Foodbanks group led by football supporters in Liverpool has taken up the cause and launched a concerted and widely popular campaign. It has captured the public imagination and is gaining wide support. Liverpool then declared itself a Right To Food City. The Greater Manchester City Region then did the same, and there are calls for several other cities to sign up.

In spring, the EFRA Committee in Parliament called for the Government to consult on the Right to Food, and called for a new Minister for Food Security. This online petition has more than 48,000 signatures. 

The campaign is very timely.  The Prime Minister has asked Henry Dimbleby to create a National Food Strategy and his report is due this summer. If he backs the Right To Food campaign calls, the Government would be legally responsible for ensuring everyone in the UK has access to adequate food. That would be a key step towards building a more just and compassionate society.

What is Church Action on Poverty's view on Right To Food?

We worked on this issue in 2015, alongside people in poverty, academics and other organisations. We looked at what a Right To Food might mean for people in the UK, and how we could ensure the right is met.

In 2015, we produced this short video, working with people with personal experience of food poverty.

Then, in 2018, we co-produced the Step Up To The Plate report, calling for Government action

The issue is as important now as it was then, and we encourage our supporters to back the Fans Supporting Foodbanks petition, to help build a more just and compassionate society for all, where food justice is secured.

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The compassion in these neighbourhood pantries is fantastic!

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“When do we riot?” The impact of the cost of living crisis

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Inside Your Local Pantry in Peckham.

The compassion in these neighbourhood pantries is fantastic!