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Welsh governing body: foodbanks

02 May 2014

CHURCH IN WALES

Gathered in: Dr Morgan, Susan Lloyd-Selby, the Revd Benjamin Andrews, and Jane Hutt at a foodbank in Barry

Gathered in: Dr Morgan, Susan Lloyd-Selby, the Revd Benjamin Andrews, and Jane Hutt at a foodbank in Barry

MOVING a private member's motion, the Archdeacon of Llandaff, the Ven. Peggy Jackson, explained that the two-clause motion "came alive" at the Penarth and Barry deanery conference (synod) after "somebody got up and said he couldn't possibly support the motion," and said that "If the Church doesn't speak out to a society that has created the need for foodbanks and the situations of food poverty that foodbanks are addressing, then we are falling short of our task as church."

She spoke of the opening ceremony of a new foodbank in Barry, which had been attended by representatives of the Citizens Advice Bureau, and the Credit Union. "Their offices are at the far end of the main street, about 300 yards from where this new foodbank distribution centre was being opened," the Archdeacon said. "It was pointed out that these three organisations often have to work together to pick up the pieces of the results of our polarised society."

She concluded her speech by quoting Hélder Câmara: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are hungry, they call me a communist." She added: "I hope the parishes of the Church in Wales in the next few months will be labelled as both."

Carol Cobert JP (Llandaff), who was seconding the motion, said: "We as a nation are failing to meet the very basic needs of our citizens. Foodbanks represent a failing welfare system if they become an established and standardised response in how the family feeds its members."

Geraint Hopkins (Cytûn) said that society was "regressing from collective solutions to these national and community problems, back to a Victorian idea of charity".

The Revd Sally Thomas (United Reformed Church) suggested that the creation of a "Welsh expression" of the Joint Public Issues Team, which represents the Methodist, Baptist, and United Reformed Churches on issues of public policy. She said that a Welsh version of the body should be more ecumenical than the existing national body.

Dean Aaron Roberts (co-opted) said: "People coming to foodbanks are guests coming to a meal." He hoped that "they will eventually come to the feast of bread and wine."

"The Trussell Trust is not the only organisation that runs foodbanks in our country", the Revd David Brownridge (Bangor) said. "In our diocese, there is only one Trussell Trust foodbank, and there are three - perhaps four - independent foodbanks. The downside of this is that all our figures are completely hidden, and are not made public."

The Assistant Bishop of Llandaff, the Rt Revd David Wilbourne, is the son of a priest, and remembers that life was difficult when his father was in training.

Working as chaplain to the Archbishop of York, he read his father's file, and saw that there had been a possibility of doubling his father's grant; but this had been opposed by an archdeacon who had written the comment: "No. A little holy poverty will be good for them."

Bishop Wilbourne said: "Poverty is not holy, but wholly wrong. It should be eradicated like smallpox." He said that the Church should take a lead by ensuring that all its employees were paid a living wage.

The motion was carried nem. con. with one abstention.

That the Governing Body:

(i) applaud the work of the foodbank organisation in and for communities across Wales;

(ii) urge all parishes to develop further their active support of their local foodbanks;

(iii) deplore the social and economic conditions which have made foodbanks a necessity; and

(iv) urge all Church members to work for a society in which all people have an income sufficient to meet their needs.

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