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Big Conversation tackles UK hunger

21 October 2016

church action on poverty

On a plate: Niall Cooper at the launch of the End Hunger UK campaign last Friday

On a plate: Niall Cooper at the launch of the End Hunger UK campaign last Friday

LEADING charities chose World Food Day last Sunday to join forces in a campaign aimed at ending hunger in the UK.

The 13 organisations, which include the Trussell Trust, Church Action on Poverty, and FareShare, came together for the “Big Conversation”, part of the campaign End Hunger UK, which seeks to ensure that no one goes to bed hungry.

The UN Food and Agricultural Organisation states that up to 8.4 million people in the UK — equivalent to the population of London — struggle to feed themselves adequately.

The campaign calls on people to host their own Big Conversation event — a forum, a coffee morning, or an informal gathering — any time between now and next March, where they can discuss their ideas on how to end hunger in the UK. They should then write their suggestions on a paper plate, and post a picture of it, or themselves holding it, on social media, using the hashtag #EndHungerUK.

The charities also suggest that people send their plates to their MPs, asking them to support their national call to focus on the problem of hunger in the UK. They are offering resources, including posters and a social-media toolkit, which can be downloaded from www.endhungeruk.org.

The charities behind the campaign work with thousands of community groups and projects across the UK that support people affected by hunger, and, although they believe that the voluntary sector’s support can be “life-changing”, they say that longer-term solutions are needed to tackle the issue.

The director of Church Action on Poverty, Niall Cooper, said: “You might imagine that in modern-day Britain we all have enough food to eat, or that hunger is only experienced by the few. Yet we see working parents missing meals so that their kids can eat, and vulnerable individuals turning to charities on a daily basis to get a meal. This is simply unacceptable.

“That’s why we’re calling for an urgent, national conversation about what needs to be done, by the Government and others, to ensure that children get the food they need to give them the best start in life, and that nobody in the UK needs to go hungry.”

 

New food measures announced. Two measures that, the Government hopes, will reduce the chances that families on low incomes will be left short of money to buy food were announced on Monday. One is a telephone service that allows tax-credit claimants to convert single claims into joint claims, which means that they will no longer need to request a new claim pack and have to wait for it to be processed, cutting waiting times from eight weeks to two.

Also, families applying for Child Benefit will be able to use an iForm, cutting the need to post original documents, which can be mislaid, causing delays of several months.

Pilots will be introduced by the end of the year, before going nationwide in early 2017.

Frank Field MP, who led a campaign to highlight the effects of some of the administrative processes at HMRC, said that it was now “chief among those organisations, including OFGEM, which are quickly adding a layer of protection to Britain’s soft human underbelly. By initiating these major improvements to the tax credit and child-benefit systems, HMRC will cut several weeks, if not months, off the length of time many thousands of families need to wait for their money to arrive.”

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