The Bishop of Truro has co-chaired an all-party parliamentary inquiry into hunger and poverty in Britain. Its report was released yesterday. In his introduction, the Rt Rev Tim Thornton writes,
It has been extraordinary to hear and meet people who are giving sacrificially of their time, talents and energy to serve their fellow human beings. In meeting them, we are reminded of the nature which is at the heart of who we are as people. It became clear throughout our Inquiry that the vast majority of people who spoke to us are people of faith, although some were people of no faith.
But for all of these people we met, their morality is expressed in their helping of others. These people do what they do because of a strong value and virtues basis to their own lives. We want to celebrate this and to reflect on our hopes of living in a country where people do share values and virtues centred on a sense of interdependence, underpinned in all we do by recognising the intrinsic worth and value of humanity.
The report is wide-ranging, covering not only emergency food provision, but food waste, availability and cost of utilities, welfare and benefits, and education. The members of the Inquiry recommend
the creation of a new national network called ‘Feeding Britain’, whose membership would be composed of the food bank movement and other providers of food assistance, the voluntary organisations redistributing fresh surplus food, the food industry, and representatives from each of the eight government departments whose policy affects the number of people at risk of hunger.
In a statement offered at the launch of the report, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said
Frank [The Rt Hon Frank Field MP, Inquiry Co-Chair] and Bishop Tim have asked me to be President of Feeding Britain as it is set up and goes forward into its pilot stages, and I feel that accepting that invitation is a huge privilege for me, and I am very grateful to be asked and I accept it with much enthusiasm.
In an article published in the Mail on Sunday on the eve of the report’s release, the Archbishop elaborated on the reasons for his personal support of the project:
It’s clear to me that, as a society, we are seeking and striving for justice, fairness and responsibility. The challenge is to find the paths that let us follow that moral compass. We must apply the values of our Christian heritage. …
This is a matter for prayer, because prayer shapes our priorities so that they become more like God’s priorities. Prayer leads to action, because Jesus Christ calls us to feed the hungry and give a drink to the thirsty.
We need to build a society that helps people take responsibility for their own lives and for their families. A society where those who are in need at one time can get their lives back on track and give to others in the future.
Thinking Anglicans has an extensive round-up of links and reactions here.
Posted by Rosalind Hughes