The Archbishop of York has said he does not want things to return to how they were before the coronavirus outbreak.
Speaking to Premier, Stephen Cottrell said that UK society should focus on building a better version of the world once the pandemic is over.
“The last government came in on a manifesto to level things up, particularly in the North," he said. "And I think we have to acknowledge that covid has hit poorest communities disproportionately."
He added: “I don't want to go back to normal. I want us to build a better world. And part of that better world must be acknowledging inequalities of wealth and opportunity.”
Cottrell praised the role that the church has played during the pandemic, helping with homelessness and setting up food banks, but said that he would like for the church to not need to do it at all.
“It's scandalous that we need food banks in a country like ours," Cottrell said. "It's a sign of failure," he added, before clarifying that the comment was not aimed at a particular political party but rather was “an observation that this is not how things are meant to be, and we could do it differently".
The Archbishop also highlighted that coronavirus has actually helped society to value one another more:
“Who would have thought this time last year, that if you ask somebody 'Who is an essential worker in the British economy?', they would have said 'The person who stacks the shelves in the supermarkets'? We've come to appreciate people in new and better ways, and therefore I think we can build on that.”
Cottrell continued: “I'd like to see us living in a society where everybody has a stake, everybody has an equal opportunity...that's the kind of world I think we should build, and I'm looking for cross-party consensus.
"As a leader in the church, I will use my influence to speak up for those who don't have these things.”