Food poverty fears as churches speak out

John Lacy at Living Waters Church
John Lacy at Living Waters Church

A church organisation is ringing the alarm bells over food poverty in Chorley.

Churches Together in Chorley says it has become “increasingly concerned” about the problem in the last two years.

One Chorley church, Living Waters on Bolton Street, runs its Storehouse foodbank project.

Churches Together says this scheme, plus the work of Chorley Help the Homeless and that of other individual church has become more and more important to people who depend on them.

In a letter to the Guardian on behalf of the organisation, Moderator Revd John Lacy said: “The contribution of volunteers in these organisations has been outstanding, as has the response of those individuals, churches, schools and other organisations that have donated food and money.

“However, a reality check in Chorley, as elsewhere, shows that need is increasing.

“There is clear evidence of this in the numerical increase in referrals to Living Waters Storehouse from 35 per month at the start of 2013 to 192 per month at the end.

“Chorley Help the Homeless has handed out 600 emergency food parcels in the last 12 months – a 100 per cent increase on the previous year.”

Meanwhile, Together Lancashire has estimated that 25,000 food parcels were distributed by the county’s food banks during 2013.

Of these, more than 16 per cent went to working households on low pay – clear evidence poverty is not restricted to those out of work.

He continued: “Organisations responding to food poverty already face capacity problems – of funding, accommodation and volunteers and if need continues to grow these difficulties will be exacerbated.

“What about those who do not avail themselves of food banks and parcels?

“One of our church members has expressed concern about the hidden and silent victims of increasing food poverty in Chorley – children who live on very meagre sustenance and whose parents cannot feed them adequately.

“Not only is the health and development of such children put at risk but their education – evidenced by poor attendance and concentration, withdrawn behaviour and low attainment.”

He said Churches Together in Chorley members feel the time has come to speak out “with one voice”.

He concluded: “Growing inequality in society demeans the ‘have-leasts’ but diminishes us all. Such unfairness needs to be challenged.”