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Church in Wales campaign pressures Government to help with soaring cost-of-living

28 October 2022

Alamy

The Princess of Wales meets volunteers at St Thomas’s, Swansea, on Tuesday. The re-developed church supports people in the neighbourhood with a range of initiatives, including a foodbank, Baby Basics, and a not-for-profit café

The Princess of Wales meets volunteers at St Thomas’s, Swansea, on Tuesday. The re-developed church supports people in the neighbourhood with a range ...

A FOOD and fuel campaign launched by the Church in Wales this week aims to put pressure on the Government to address spiralling costs faced by households, and urges supermarkets to do more to help those on lowest incomes.

The Archbishop of Wales, the Most Revd Andrew John, said that the “collective voice” of the Church was needed to advocate on people’s behalf.

“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 sixth 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,” he said.

He called on churches in Wales to join the campaign, which has created a website drawing together information and resources for churches that want to get involved.

“We are a church for all who struggle to make ends meet,” he said. “We are a church for those who are forced to choose between heating and eating. 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.”

The campaign includes an open letter to supermarkets in the UK, urging them to do more to help households, including lowering the prices of basic and essential goods in the food, toiletries, and baby ranges. The letter asks for a reduction in food waste, with more excess food donated to foodbanks and food-distribution organisations; a review of the cost of minimum delivery orders for customers; and a rise in the salaries of employees.

The letter urges: “Our appeal to you is to respond positively and promptly to assist the citizens of the UK to avoid the crippling damage this situation creates. Your organisation has enormous potential for good and can implement lasting change.”

A “Snapshot on Poverty” report by the Bevan Foundation this summer found that 57 per cent of people in Wales had cut back on heating, electricity, and water in the six months to July this year, and 39 per cent had cut back on food for adults.

Wales has lower income levels than the rest of the UK, and last year Save the Children said that one third of children were living in poverty in Wales: the highest percentage of any UK nation.

Churches have already been responding to the crisis, with many opening up warm spaces for people to go for company and for heat this winter. St David’s, in the village of Tonyrefail, in the Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough, is offering a weekly “warm space café”, with hot food and drink, free WiFi, and company.

A volunteer at the church, Charmain Walsh, said: “Because we are the local church, our faith matters in everyday life, and this is one way we are seeking to serve the community. This initiative, along with our foodbank work, is a way that our church can support the needs of the most vulnerable in our community.”

The Church in Wales is also planning a series of public talks on the biblical imperative for responding to the cost-of-living crisis, which will include a former Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, and Steve Chalke, from Oasis Charitable Trust.

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