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Food Bank - Copyright Jeff Blacker / REX
UK News

Christian charity claims it's now 'subtly' kept away by government

"The messages are passed through in a more subtle way, that's all I can really say," chair of the Trussell Trust, Chris Mould, said.

Last year it was revealed that a senior member of the Department for Work and Pensions warned Mr Mould that the Government might try to "shut you down" because of how outspoken the charity is about food poverty.

Mr Mould says it is similar but different today: "What we hear is that we will never get access to policy-makers in government.

"We get told that if we were to say less, and to be less regular in the saying of what we say, we would then get the chance to have conversations with government departments."

The Trussell Trust operates more than 400 food-banks across the country, many within churches.

More than one million three-day food parcels were handed out between 2014-2015, and the charity claims that in more than 40% of cases the main reason for people needing emergency help is delays or changes to their benefits.

Mr Mould said: "If you were to take the same principle and apply it to the health service and say, 'A tiny proportion of patients won't get a good service', and as a consequence they don't get better and die, there would be a scandal."

"There are many people who have told me that the food bank saved their lives and several instances of people where that's absolutely true; they had reached the end of their tether and they were planning to commit suicide."

The charity claims to have asked the DWP for a meeting to discuss food poverty on many occasions over the years, but that they have only been invited once, and that in 2010-2011 when the government was consulting on welfare reform.

In a statement, a government spokesman said: "Britain has a proud tradition of volunteering and of civil society and faith groups providing support to vulnerable people and this government welcomes that.

"We know that the reasons for food-bank use are complex and often overlapping, so it is misleading to claim that it is driven by benefit delays."

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