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Salvation Army
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UK News

Salvation Army warns UK poverty approaching tipping point

by Tola Mbakwe

The Salvation Army says the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic is pushing those in poverty to the "tipping point".

A survey of UK Salvation Army corps (church and community centres) during one week in April revealed a 63 per cent surge in households given food support compared to February. 

It also found ten of the busiest corps recorded a 174 per cent increase in households being provided with food support. 

Major Ian Payne from The Salvation Army has been coordinating food distribution in Chatham for ten weeks. 

He told Premier the food distribution operation has increasingly got busier since the lockdown. 

"It's not just homeless or those who are struggling with benefits, but those who have worked, who are now not working because of zero hours, or because there's no work for them. 

"And they are feeling slightly embarrassed to come and ask, but they come in. So we are seeing an uptake in different types of people."

This comes ahead of an expected announcement by the Chancellor on Friday around changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which is widely anticipated could signal further job losses among people currently furloughed and having their wages paid by the Treasury.
The Salvation Army's leader in the UK and Ireland, Commissioner Anthony Cotterill said: "It's years since we have seen poverty to be such a real and present danger for so many people.
"We really welcome the initial action the government has taken to support income through the furlough scheme, but we are worried that the communities we work in will be reeling from the economic fall out for many years. 
"We are approaching a poverty tipping point. Our immediate focus is scaling up our provision to get food and support to people who need it now, from families unable to pay utility bills to rough sleepers struggling to feed themselves. 
"We are also looking at the long-term picture. Our Employment Plus Advisors will help people find work; we will continue to support stretched families juggling minimum wage jobs with childcare, and our Debt Advisors will help people make ends meet'

"We are doing everything we can to stop thousands of people sliding into poverty."

To meet the need, The Salvation Army has opened large scale food distribution hubs across the country to bulk buy essential food for an initial supply of around 22,000 basic food parcels. 

With each parcel costing at least £16 each, the church and charity has launched an emergency fundraising appeal to ensure it can keep providing large volumes of food parcels to families on the edge across the UK. 

Major Payne said: "I think Christianity is a practical Christianity. For me that's really, really important because it's not just about sitting in the church. I think we're beginning to realize when the Government said the churches are open for prayer…. they've never been closed. God is everywhere. 

"So for us giving out these parcels, it's not because we want to feel good about the Salvation Army, we want to say where there's a need there's a Salvation Army, and where we can meet that need, we'll meet it practically. I've also prayed with a lot of people."

To support The Salvation Army's coronavirus respons, click here

Listen to Premier's interview with Major Ian Payne here


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