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New toolkit equips churches in Wales to tackle cost of living crisis

by Tola Mbakwe

The Bishop of Llandaff has launched a new toolkit to assist churches through the cost of living crisis.

It gives practical information about setting up foodbanks, community pantries and tackling period poverty, as well as advice on how to speak out to influence real change.

It aims to resource churches in the Diocese of Llandaff to support people in urgent need and to use their influence to fight for justice.

It is hoped that churches will feel inspired to get involved in community organising, campaigning, and advocacy to bring about change that lifts people out of poverty and hunger.

Bishop of Llandaff June Osborne said: “I am deeply concerned about the cost of living crisis, which is having a devastating impact on our most vulnerable people. The rise of food prices and other essential items is pushing more people into poverty. Families are facing a stark choice between heating their home or feeding their children.

“Time and time again I see the Church picking up the pieces as financial hardship devastates communities. It’s a stain on modern society that food banks exist but I am humbled by those churches who have already stepped up to run or support over 20 food banks or pantries across the diocese. From Cardiff to Neath, and Barry to Merthyr Tydfil, hundreds of volunteers are giving their time, through their love of God, to support those most in need in their community.

“The church will not cease in raising its voice in pursuit of justice until the need for foodbanks is resigned to the dim and distant past where it belongs. I urge the UK Government to do more to ease the impact of the cost of living crisis and to support people to deal with crippling financial pressures.”

According to a 2020 report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, almost a quarter of people in Wales already live in poverty and the Welsh government states that  up to 45 per cent  of households experience fuel poverty.

In Nelson and Treharris, Taff Bargoed Foodbank, in partnership with the Trussel Trust, has seen a significant increase from people contacting them for help. During a typical week in May, the foodbank responded to over 40 requests from local people who are experiencing hardship, and hundreds of people collect essential items from their community pantry.

Rev Gareth Coombes, who set up the foodbank, said: “Our church community has a long history of supporting people in Nelson, Treharris and beyond. During lockdown, we supported over 500 families with food and other essentials through our community pantry.

“And yet the need is still great. Recently we have been inundated with requests for support and are having to regularly ask for food donations to keep on top of demand. Families tell us that our community larder and foodbank are a lifeline and that they would have to go without if the foodbank didn’t exist.

“While it is our calling as Christians to support those around us who are in the greatest need, I do think it’s scandalous that foodbanks exist. It’s not enough to provide foodbanks, churches must also speak out against injustice.”

The cost of living toolkit includes advice on lobbying your AM and MP and signposts to petitions calling for immediate action to tackle the crisis.

Listen to Premier's interview with Chris Auckland, senior outreach officer for the Church in Wales here: 

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