We’re currently seeing a rising tide of poverty in the UK. We want to see this change and we would love you and your church to get involved. Here are five ways you can help:
The current situation
We are grateful for the generous support and commitment that churches, together with the wider public and our corporate partners, are continuing to provide to the food banks in our network. The response has been overwhelming we are humbled afresh by the commitment, compassion and adaptability of food bank staff, volunteers and supporters across the UK.
By working collaboratively, we have been able to respond comprehensively to the challenges we identified at the beginning of the coronavirus crisis. As a result, our food bank network is now in a strong position to continue supporting people in financial crisis at this time, and over the longer term.
Although we are deeply concerned about the increasing demand for food banks that we have already begun to see, we are now confident that food banks in our network will be able to rise to the challenges confronting them.
We have been able to rapidly establish new processes for securing food supplies, supporting referrals to food banks, and delivering emergency food to households who have been referred for support. We are providing daily updates to food banks in our network and have supported them to put social distancing measures in place.
For churches that already host or run food banks
We would like to extend our thanks to churches for keeping their buildings open for food bank use even though they have had to close for other purposes. This is playing a vital part in sustaining this important provision at this time. Thank you too for the invaluable support you provide in the form of volunteers, food donations, leadership and financial support.
Government advice explains that food banks can legally continue operating and buildings that host food banks – including churches – can continue to open for those sessions, provided we follow social distancing rules, because this work qualifies those involved as key workers ‘caring for the vulnerable’. Food banks in the Trussell Trust network are receiving regular briefings and support to help them adapt to the current situation. You can read more about the steps we are supporting food banks to take here.
Before starting something new…
An area of concern that we need to bring to the attention of the Christian community is the emergence of new emergency food distribution services as churches react to the current crisis.
We understand that churches will want to support those who are most vulnerable at this time, and our own experience tells us that churches have the potential to mobilise people rapidly as a tremendous force for good in society.
However, a proliferation of new emergency food distribution initiatives aimed at those in financial crisis will make it much more difficult to track the extent and drivers of acute poverty in the UK, making it more difficult to advocate for policy change, and pushing the goal of a UK without the need for food banks further into the future than is necessary.
We believe that everyone should have the dignity of being able to buy food for themselves and their families. We are therefore seeking churches’ backing as we work not only to respond with compassion but also to seek justice when it comes to the problem of acute poverty in the UK.
We are urging churches to support existing food banks rather than starting up new emergency food distribution initiatives aimed at those who are facing acute poverty at this time, wherever possible. If church leaders feel there is an unmet need in their local community, we would encourage them first to contact their nearest food bank and understand if there is a way for them to work together to meet this need. Some of the ways that churches can get involved in supporting existing food banks are outlined here.
In addition, we would encourage churches who are in a position to offer support to those who are in need of other forms of assistance at this time to register with YourNeighbour.org. This is a great way to make practical and pastoral help available within your local community.
Read more about this in our letter to national church leaders here.
How your church can help
Here are some ways that your church can support your local food bank and get involved in working with us towards an end to the need for food banks in the UK.
1. Organise a food collection
Food banks in our network rely on donated food to enable them to provide emergency food supplies to people in crisis. You could organise a home-based collection point to enable your church and local community to support your local food bank in a coordinated and socially distanced way.
You can find your nearest Trussell Trust food bank using the map here. Check the social media or website of your local food bank to find out about their specific needs and the best way to drop off your church’s donation.
If you would like to do this, please fill out our form with the name and postcode of your church, and the name of the food bank you plan to donate to, and we’ll send you a step by step guide together with posters and social media resources to help you do this.
We would love your church to support us in prayer at this time.
The Trussell Trust team, like the dedicated teams of staff and volunteers who make food banks happen across the country, is made up of people from a variety of faith and non-faith backgrounds. Our work is based on, shaped and guided by Christian principles, and for lots of food bank staff and volunteers, prayer is an important way of seeking guidance, being resourced for action and bringing about change.
We’ve prepared some prayer resources here which can be used for personal prayer or shared with a group.
You can also download a Powerpoint version of the prayer resources here for use in online church services, prayer groups or in other settings.
Churches can help people in financial crisis access the support they need by putting them in touch with their local Citizens Advice centre who will be operating a telephone support service. This will ensure they can be referred to a food bank, and at the same time be supported to access any government benefits they are entitled to.
If your church is already a food bank referral partner you can of course continue to refer people directly.
4. Speak out
We believe it is our responsibility to seek justice and challenge the drivers of poverty, as well as to respond compassionately to people who are in crisis. One way to speak out about this is to write to your MP asking them to make real change. Find out more about our campaign.
5. Sign up
We will be releasing more resources for churches over the coming months, including small group discussion guides, video clips, and sermon resources. If you’d like to be kept in touch as these become available, please sign up here.
Let us know!
We’d love to hear about what you’re doing. Why not share your action on social media so that others catch the vision for it too? You can tag us @TrussellTrust and use the hashtag #ThisCanChange.