Today the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Tim Stevens, launched the ‘Think Hunger’ Campaign at Leicester Cathedral, a Christian-led initiative that aims to raise awareness of widespread poverty within Leicestershire. The campaign strives to address the issue of increasing UK hunger, and pointedly begins on Ash Wednesday, marking the first day of Lent – notable in the Christian Calendar as a 40 day period of fasting before Easter.
According to national statistics, half a million people used food banks last year – and there was a 76% rise from 2012-13. The Dean of Leicester Revd Canon David Monteith emphasized these figures, stating that: “For many people in modern Britain, hunger is a daily fact of life.” The campaign aims to question why so many Britons are going hungry, and make the government take action about it.
The Bishop Rt Revd Stevens made his intentions clear, expressing that: “We need to do more about the living wage problem, the food markets and the accumulated effects of welfare reform.” He added: “It’s not only our job to help the hungry, we also need to ask why they are hungry.”
He hopes to alert local residents to unseen poverty that may be taking place under their noses, and asked them to get involved with Think Hunger during Lent. The Bishop stressed: “Many people have no choice but to fast because they simply cannot afford to buy food”, so he is encouraging people to fast as a sign of solidarity. There will even be a Think Hunger Question Time, giving the Leicester community the chance to raise their concerns about local and national poverty issues with local politicians.
Think Hunger is associated with End Hunger Fast, a nationwide Christian movement that addresses the growing issue of hunger across Britain. They are holding a National Fast Day on April 4th as well as asking people to challenge the welfare system at government level by writing to local MPs and government officials.
The Bishop’s reinforced this need for state action, and he largely focused on the failings of the government to eradicate nationwide hunger. He criticised the Prime Minister over his recent nonchalant reaction to flooding, saying: “If money is ‘no object’ when your home is flooded, why is it the problem when you can’t feed your children?”
The Think Hunger campaign is supported by Leicester-based initiatives FareShare and St Martin’s House Food Bank.
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