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UK News

Food and fuel: New Church in Wales campaign helping people during 'scandalous' cost of living crisis

by Tola Mbakwe

The Church in Wales has launched a new campaign helping those suffering the devastating impact of the cost of living crisis.

The Food and Fuel campaign will address the causes of food and fuel poverty by putting pressure on the Government to address the spiralling costs which is forcing families to choose between heating or eating.

With foodbanks across Wales struggling to meet the increasing demands for donations, the campaign includes an open letter to all supermarkets calling on them to increase their range of basic essential items and to donate more items to food distribution charities. 

Most Rev Andrew John, Archbishop of Wales told Premier: "We're facing a crisis in our country… around the number of people who can't afford good food, and even if they can afford the food, very often they can't heat it because they can't afford the fuel.  Or if not that, they're struggling to keep their car on the road, and social mobility is reduced as a result."

The campaign starts as a new poll reveals more than two thirds of UK adults are planning to cut back this Christmas because of the rising cost of living.

Seventy-five  per cent of those asked in the poll for Accenture said they're not planning a "big celebration." 

Half said they're intending to reduce spending on presents and eating out over the festive season.

Meanwhile, charities and foodbanks are seeing a drop in donations as the surging cost of living pushes demand to "unprecedented levels".

A survey by the giving platform Neighbourly shows voluntary groups are seeing fewer financial and food donations - and even fewer volunteers.

Two-thirds are seeing less money being donated and six in ten are getting fewer food donations.

Archbishop Andrew said: "It is scandalous that foodbanks were only intended to be a short-term emergency service but have now become an essential part of everyday life for so many. I find it outrageous that as the 6th largest economy in the world, the UK has so many families living in poverty and so many people struggling to pay for food and heating."

The Church in Wales has asked all its congregations to get involved in the campaign too. 

This winter, vulnerable people have a place to go for food and warmth thanks to a church in Tonyrefail which has set up a weekly warm bank. St David's Church provides weekly a warm space café offering hot food and drink, free Wi-Fi and company. 

Robert Priddle, the church warden, said: "We spotted The Warm Space campaign on social media and realised that this was something as a church we wanted to do. Some people are feeling isolated and alone and we want to offer food and drink and somewhere in which people can find a welcome and a belief that they matter."

The Church in Wales also wants churches assemble ten boxes of toiletries or people in need during Christmas. If all churches took part, it would amount to 10,000 boxes.   

Archbishop Andrew said: "As Christians we are a called to speak out against poverty. Our mission in Wales is to live out the gospel message of hope, justice and love. We are a church for all who struggle to make ends meet. We are a church for those who are forced to choose between eating or heating.

"Together we can raise our voice and campaign for change. It is our duty to be a channel of God's love in the world."

A series of public lectures exploring the biblical and theological imperative of responding to the cost of living crisis is planned for later this year. Speakers confirmed include the Bishop Barry Morgan, former Archbishop of Wales, Welsh theologian Canon Trystan Hughes and Steve Chalke MBE, founder of Oasis Charitable Trust. 

Listen to Premier's interview with Archbishop Andrew John here:

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