Sunday, 20 October 2013

Who’s using food banks?

From MSM

By midday the volunteers are ready and waiting inside the door of the red-brick church. The kettle is boiling and there are plates of biscuits. The small room is dotted with tables covered with brightly coloured clothes and mismatched vases of fresh flowers.

Outside, a middle-aged woman and her young daughter wait for the door to be unlocked. But they aren’t waiting for a service or a church meeting group, they are waiting to be given an emergency parcel of food.

Food bank use is on the rise. According to the Trussell Trust, a charity that runs 400 food banks across the UK, the number of people relying on their services to survive has tripled over the last three years.

Between April and September this year, the trust says it handed out emergency supplies for more than 350,000 people. A third of those were children.

What are food banks and why do we need them?

In the red-brick church, the woman and her child have received several bags of food and left. She doesn’t want to talk about why she’s there, she just wants to get in and out as quickly as possible.

The bank has given her enough food to last each member of her household for three days, and also essentials like toiletries and toilet rolls. Food bags are made up on the spot depending on the recipient’s needs and what facilities, if any, they have for preparing meals.

John, the manager of this food bank in Warrington, in the north-west, explains that these food parcels are for people and families in crisis. “They can’t come every week, more like once every three months at the most. But we see most people just once, maybe twice. We couldn’t give regular parcels to everyone; we couldn’t keep up with demand!”

 Red Cross backs food help scheme

The food bank relies entirely on donations and is staffed by volunteers. John says that he needs volunteers who have compassion, but who can also keep “an element of detachment”. As the room fills up, it becomes apparent that some level of detachment is an essential survival trait for the staff.

At the door, 57-year-old Chris has arrived, clutching the referral slip he needs to access the food bank’s services. A brush with the criminal justice system has led to him finally being housed after 16 years on the street, but this has messed up his benefits payments and left him without money for basics like food.

The volunteers fetch him a cup of tea and ask a few essential questions. Does he have electricity? An oven? A kettle? Some customers don’t have such essential kitchen appliances and so there’s little point giving them tins of soup or instant noodles.

And Chris is being offered more than food. The volunteer sitting with him is referring him to the local clothing bank, and listening sympathetically as he talks about his alcohol addiction and the two daughters he has lost contact with.

Next there’s Jo, aged 42. She’s smartly dressed, with her hair tied in a neat bun, but she looks defeated. Jo lives alone with her husband and has been his carer while he struggles with mental ill health. However, he has been stripped of his Personal Independence Payment, a decision he’s appealing. In the meantime, there’s no food in the house and Jo has come to collect some emergency supplies.

“This government’s not got a clue about what it’s like for normal people,” she says in a resigned voice. If the food bank hadn’t been an option, what would she have done? “There’s nothing I could have done except try to borrow some money somehow.”

On the next table, 28-year-old Rose is talking to one of the volunteers. She’s explaining that she’s lost her benefits because she went into hospital and the evidence wasn’t passed to the jobcentre – it’s not clear if that’s her own fault or an admin error. “I had to go to hospital for a biopsy,” she reveals. “So I got sanctioned and lost my benefits. And now I have no food, but I have medicine I can only take with food. What do I do?” Rose says she is pregnant.

The volunteer helping her is Karen, and she works at the bank every week. “I want to see social justice,” she says passionately. “Society has to be made aware of how the welfare cuts are affecting the poorest people.”

Rose nods in agreement: “Cameron needs to get his arse in gear.”

The volunteers may try to distance themselves from the difficulties the food bank’s client’s face, but they all have stories that have affected them deeply. For one, it was the skinny man who had very little money left for food but had been using it to feed his dog rather than himself.

For another, it’s several clients on welfare benefits who they believe have been sanctioned for no reason, leaving them without money unfairly while they appeal.

Some of the people accepting food parcels are in work but have been hit by a crisis and left without cash. Others are undeniably chaotic, struggling to cope with issues such as homelessness and alcohol abuse.

And many have nowhere to turn but charities such as the Trussell Trust’s food banks. “Some people don’t have any safety net,” one volunteer comments. “You or I could go to family and at least get a meal, but for some of these people their families aren’t in a position to help them. They are just as chaotic themselves.”

David Cameron has come under pressure to look into the surge in demand for food banks, but the chancellor, George Osborne, has previously argued that the rise is simply because more people are aware of them.

When asked what they would do if the food bank wasn’t there, some say they would borrow money, others that they would beg or borrow food. But more than half, including possibly pregnant Rose, shake their heads and simply say: “Go hungry”


Thursday, 17 October 2013


1016222_553844577991324_1288035872_nToday, the Mayor of Redbridge together with the Mayoress, the Deputy Mayor and consort, Colonel Paul Acda, Deputy Lieutenant for Redbridge,our local MP Mike Gapes, present and retired Councillors, Past Mayors and other distinguished guests came to a Solemn Mass to celebrate the granting of the Charter to Ilford in 1926. The Mayor read one of the Lessons, I gave a short homily, Doreen led us in prayer and Ann, Tom and Stuart were servers. Guest Organist David Bailey played the organ and Jean led the singing of the Lourdes Gloria. After the Blessing we sang The Angelus and then, as today is the birthday of Warden Emeritus Richard, we sang “A Happy Birthday” we then adjourned next door to the Conservative Club for refreshments.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Tripling in foodbank usage sparks Trussell Trust to call for an inquiry

Wednesday 16th October (WORLD FOOD DAY)



Over 350,000 people received three days’ emergency food from Trussell Trust foodbanks between April and September 2013, triple the numbers helped in the same period last year. The Trussell Trust says that UK hunger is getting worse and the charity is calling for an inquiry into the causes of UK food poverty and the consequent surge in foodbank usage

Chris Mould, Executive Chairman of The Trussell Trust says: ‘We said in April that the increasing numbers of people turning to foodbanks should be a wake-up call to the nation, but there has been no policy response and the situation is getting worse. The level of food poverty in the UK is not acceptable. It’s scandalous and it is causing deep distress to thousands of people. The time has come for an official and in depth inquiry into the causes of food poverty and the consequent rise in the usage of foodbanks. As a nation we need to accept that something is wrong and that we need to act now to stop UK hunger getting worse.’

The Trussell Trust is writing to David Cameron asking him to look into the recently raised by the Government’s poverty tsar Frank Field MP.

Evidence from Trussell Trust foodbanks shows that rising living costs and stagnant wages are forcing more people to live on a financial knife edge where any change in circumstance can plunge them into poverty. Even marginal shifts in prices when people don’t have elasticity in their personal finances can have a major impact. Food prices have risen by 12.6% above inflation over the past six years and rising energy prices this winter are likely to see more people forced to choose between eating and heating. People at foodbanks have started giving back food items that need cooking because they can’t afford to turn on the electricity.

Many people on low-incomes are also being impacted by the implementation of April’s welfare reforms. Trussell Trust foodbanks are reporting increased referrals as a result of the spare room subsidy, sanctioning and confusion caused by the devolution of the Social Fund.

Chris Mould says: ‘Problems with welfare are not new, they have existed for years, but the reality is that when welfare provision breaks down, people go hungry. We’re talking about mums not eating for days because they’ve been sanctioned for seemingly illogical reasons, or people leaving hospital after a major operation to find that their benefits have been stopped or delayed. It’s not right that so many more people are now being referred to foodbanks due to problems with welfare, especially as much of this is preventable.

This is not about pointing fingers, it’s about finding solutions. That’s why we believe an enquiry is now essential’

Chris Johnes, Oxfam’s UK Poverty Programme Director, says:

"These figures lay bare the shocking scale of destitution, hardship and hunger in the UK. It is completely unacceptable that in the seventh wealthiest nation on the planet, the number of people turning to foodbanks has tripled.”

"Oxfam welcomes The Trussell Trust’s call for the Prime Minister to launch an urgent inquiry into why people are forced to turn to foodbanks."

Last week, British Red Cross announced that it will provide volunteers for the first time to support Tesco’s nationwide food collection for Trussell Trust Foodbanks and FareShare because it is so concerned by levels of UK hunger.

The Trussell Trust’s Chris Mould says ‘Trussell Trust foodbanks across the UK provide a much needed and vital lifeline to people facing hunger but far fewer people should be needing them and the rise in numbers we are reporting today  must sound an alarm.’



  • The Trussell Trust is a Christian charity that launches foodbanks to provide three days’ nutritionally balanced non-perishable food to people in crisis.
  • These figures have been released to coincide with World Food Day (16th October 2013).
  • 355,985 people received a minimum of three days’ emergency food from Trussell Trust foodbanks between April - September 2013, compared to 113,264 between April and September 2012. Numbers helped in the first six months of this financial year are more than the total number helped in the entirety of 2012-13 financial year (346,992). Of those helped in the last six months, over 120,000 (35 percent) were children.  
  • 65,177 people (19%) were referred to Trussell Trust foodbanks due to benefit changes between April and September 2013, compared to almost 14,897 (14%) in same period last year. 117,442 people (35%)were referred due to benefit delay, compared to 35,597 (33%) last year.
  • Whilst there are now double the number of foodbanks open this year compared to this time last year, numbers given emergency food have increased threefold and well-established foodbanks across the UK are reporting significant rises in numbers helped.
  • The Trussell Trust is launching two to three new foodbanks every week to help meet demand and has launched 400 UK foodbanks in partnership with churches and communities to date.
  • The Trussell Trust foodbank model aims to help people break out of poverty rather than create dependency on a foodbank. As well as providing emergency food, Trussell Trust foodbanks also signpost clients to other agencies able to help resolve the underlying cause of the crisis.
  • Trussell Trust foodbank users are referred by a frontline care professional such as a doctor, social worker, CAB or schools liaison officer. Over 18,000 frontline care professionals across the UK refer clients to Trussell Trust foodbanks, 50 percent of which are statutory agencies.
  • Foodboxes contain at least three days’ supply of non-perishable foods such as tinned fruit, vegetables, meat and fish as well as pasta, cereal, UHT milk, sauces, tea, long-life juice. The Trussell Trust works with dieticians to ensure that foodboxes are nutritionally balanced. Over 90% of food given out by foodbanks is donated directly by the public. In 2012-13, 3,492.44 tonnes of non-perishable food was donated.
  • Foodbank clients can receive up to three consecutive foodbank vouchers before our system flags that the foodbank should speak to the referral agent to make sure that their client is receiving proper support to help them out of their crisis. Longer term support is available at the discretion of the foodbank manager but our aim is to help people out of poverty and prevent dependency. Each voucher can be redeemed for at least three days food.
  • In 2008-09 Trussell Trust foodbanks gave three days’ emergency food to 26,000 people nationwide; in 2009-10: 41,000 were helped; in 2010-11: 61,468; in 2011-12: 128,697; in 2012-13: 346,992.
  • Foodbanks help to prevent housing loss, mental health problems, family breakdown and crime.
  • The Trussell Trust estimates that there would need to be 750-1,000 foodbanks to provide for people in crisis across the UK. Thousands of people are facing hunger today in towns with no foodbanks.
  • For World Food Day, The Trussell Trust is running an appeal called ‘Give it up for foodbanks’ to encourage more people to help stop UK hunger by giving up coffee, cake etc for a week and donating what they save.
  • The Trussell Trust receives no government funding and relies entirely on the generosity of the public, businesses and charitable trusts.
  • The Trussell Trust is a-political.
  • For more on foodbanks visit:
  • The Trussell Trust is a Christian charity that partners with local communities to provide practical, non-judgemental help to people in crisis in the UK and Bulgaria:
  • I am publishing this on my Blog to give it more publicity and as it is something which causes me great concern.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Housing charity Shelter said many households are on a financial 'knife-edge'

from msm money – The Press Association

As many as one home in every street in some places of England are at risk of being repossessed, according to a housing and homelessness charity.

Unemployment and the high cost of living are leaving many households on a "knife-edge", Shelter said.

The number of possession claims across England has increased, according to figures released by the charity which it says are based on a combination of Ministry of Justice statistics and 2011 census data.

The figures relate to possession claims, which are applications made to a court by lenders and landlords to repossess a house, the first step to get a possession order.

Between July last year and June the biggest increase in possession and eviction claims was recorded in Richmondshire, North Yorkshire, rocketing by 80.3%.

Newham in East London has the highest number of homes at risk of being repossessed, at one in every 35. That could be one house on every street in the area where a family may be made homeless, Shelter said.

Outside of London, Wolverhampton has the highest claim rate for possessions at one in every 59 homes under threat, followed closely by Nottingham, Salford, Peterborough and Luton where each place has one in every 63 homes are at risk of being repossessed.

In the London borough of Brent, 2,747 homes are at risk, as of June this year, rising from 1,997 in the same month last year, up 37.6%.

West Somerset closely follows Richmondshire with 65.7% more possession claims, while Watford has a 50.8% increase.

Following Newham, in the top 10 areas of England with the most repossession and eviction claims, are Haringey and Barking and Dagenham, each with one in every 37 homes at risk.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: "This research shows that thousands of families all over England are dealing with the devastating possibility of losing their home. In some places as many as one home in every street is now at risk."With less job security and the rising cost of living and housing these days, many more families are finding themselves living on a knife-edge. Just one thing, like a job loss or illness, could tip them into a spiral that puts their home at risk."It's right we create a welfare system that's fair but government changes to the safety net are leaving ordinary families exposed. We must protect the safety net so that if people fall on hard times, they can get the help they need to get back on their feet."

A Government spokesperson said: "Latest figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders show the numbers of home repossessions haven fallen 8% over the past 12 months and are at their lowest level for six years. "But we are not complacent. Our welfare reforms are ensuring that clear protection is in place, we've maintained the Support for Mortgage Interest scheme and our £470 million funding to councils means we continue to have a strong safety net against homelessness."We know times are tough and that is why we are taking action to help families with the cost of living by cutting income tax for 25 million people, which will save a typical taxpayer over £700, taking 2.7 million out of income tax altogether and freezing council tax for five years, saving a typical household £600.

Living in one of the wealthiest countries of the world with people losing their homes, not able to feed their families and relying on Food Banks, in this the  21st Century we should be really ashamed.

Saturday, 12 October 2013


I’ve seen it all. One of my congregation parked their car in the car park adjacent to the Ilford Hospital Chapel and got a parking ticket for being there 1 minute -  yes you read that correctly one minute without a suitable parking ticket. The warden was writing out the ticket whilst she was getting out her Disabled Badge Parking Permit which allows her to park for free in this particular car park. It makes you wonder just what sort of person the Local Authority employ. She now has to pay £30 unless she can appeal against this which I have strongly advised her to do. It is this sort of behaviour which gives Local Authorities a reputation for fining people as a means of fund raising. The sooner Rt. Hon. Eric Pickles sorts out this sort of disgraceful action the better.

Thursday, 10 October 2013


Good number for Mass today at the Hospital Chapel.

Next Thursday we will welcome the Mayor of Redbridge, the Deputy Lieutenant (Colonel Paul Acda), our local MP and many other distinguished guests including previous Mayors and Councillors for the Charter Day Service which will be a Solemn Mass at 12.35 p.m.

Sunday, 6 October 2013


In 1997 Ann and I went into the Church of St. Francis of Assisi at Barkingside where I was the Vicar. We left the church door open and our cat, Charlie, came into church something she had never done previously. She walked up the aisle of the Lady Chapel, crossed by the main altar and walked down the other side aisle to where the statue of St. Francis was situated. She then proceeded to howl; I can only describe it as a howl as I have never heard such a bloodcurdling noise before. I picked her up and took her out of the church; a few moments later she came back in and did exactly as she had before; up the Lady Chapel aisle, across by the main altar, down the other side aisle stopping in front of St. Francis and howling for all she was worth. I took her out of church and made sure the door was tightly closed. Later that day we discovered that Assisi had been the victim of a terrible earthquake and substantial damage had been done to the Basilica. Somehow our cat knew what was happening. After that she never came into church again nor did she try to do so.

Friday, 4 October 2013


Today we celebrate St. Francis of Assisi.


Where St. Francis died

where St. Francis died

The tomb of St. Francis

tomb of St. Francis

St. Francis pray for us.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013



Cameron 'regrets' redefining marriage

There has been a lot of interesting news about the marriage debate in recent days – most of it bad news for David Cameron, the chief architect of the redefining marriage policy. So I thought you might appreciate a summary.

Cameron’s regret

The Prime Minister privately admitted he should not have redefined marriage. According to a new book, David Cameron told an ally: “If I’d known what it was going to be like, I wouldn’t have done it.” Publicly, he has denied any regret, but he did go on the record to say: “I don’t think I expected quite the furore that there was.” This may be far from eating humble pie, but his comments do show a serious lack of judgement about the level of public support for traditional marriage.


Marriage tax break

The Conservatives have promised to recognise marriage in the tax system. Many countries allow one spouse to transfer their tax allowance to the other spouse. Not so in the UK. Here families with stay-at-home mums are, in effect, penalised. So recognising marriage in the tax system is a sound idea in principle, but the detail of the Prime Minister’s scheme leaves a lot to be desired. For one thing, Mr Cameron has already mangled the meaning of marriage. For another, it is not a full transferable tax allowance – it will only make married couples £16 a month better off. The policy won’t be implemented until just before the General Election in 2015, and it is opposed by Labour and the Lib Dems so it may not happen at all. The policy is too little, too late.


Grassroots woe

Recent official figures released by the Conservative Party show that membership has almost halved since Mr Cameron became leader. Many grassroot Tories are upset at the redefinition of marriage. An analysis of local party associations published today by The Daily Telegraph, shows many associations are running out of money with the unpopularity of redefining marriage a key factor.


Vote loser

A poll at the weekend for the BBC shows most Tory councillors think redefining marriage will be a vote loser. Almost two thirds (63%) think it will cost the party more votes than it gains. And Maria Hutchings, the Conservative candidate in this year’s Eastleigh by-election, told the BBC that she lost the race because of the Party’s policy to redefine marriage. Even though voters knew that she was personally opposed to it, they still voted against her because they were so angry at the Party’s policy.


We were right

All of this shows that we were right, and Mr Cameron was wrong. We said this policy was unpopular and a vote loser – as well as being wrong in principle. He refused to listen to us, to you, and to 700,000 people like you. He is wrong and out of touch with ordinary people about marriage

Yours sincerely,

Colin Hart

Colin Hart
Campaign Director
Coalition for Marriage