’10 years of a food bank is not something to celebrate’

Our south of the borough correspondent, PEARL LEE, on an expression of ‘righteous anger’ from a senior member of the clergy

Pulpit message: Rev Russell Furley-Smith gives his speech at the Purley Food Hub’s 10th anniversary

There should be a “righteous anger” that there is any need for foodbanks in the borough, and that that need has become “normalised”, according to one of Croydon’s most senior clergy.

Rev Russell Furley-Smith is the minister at Purley United Reform Church, where the Purley Food Hub is based, and was speaking at an evening of thanksgiving to mark the 10th anniversary of the food hub, which has managed to deliver one-third of a million meals in that time, something the clergyman described as “amazing, but horrific”.

He said, “There should be a righteous anger that there is still a need, and that the need is increasing.

“And there should be a righteous anger that food banks like ours around the country are just recognised almost as something normal now.

“That’s not right.”

In its 10 years, the Purley Food Hub has provided more than 300,000 meals. In May 2023, 3,340 meals were delivered to 370 clients and family members.

“Those of us who were involved in those initial discussions more than 10 years ago would not believe these figures now. It’s amazing. It’s horrific, but it’s amazing,” Rev Furley-Smith said.

The minister referred to comments in the Food Hub’s monthly newsletter by Trevor Jones, the Purley Food Hub’s chair of trustees, who had said that “10 years of a food bank is probably not something to celebrate.”

He declared: “I absolutely agree with Trevor.

“What is wrong with our politics? What is wrong with our economics that normalises food banks?

“I have got it off my chest because that’s not primarily why we are here today. But I think it needs to be there somewhere and not forgotten about.”

Around 70 of the food hub’s volunteers attended the thanksgiving service.

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5 Responses to ’10 years of a food bank is not something to celebrate’

  1. James Seabrook says:

    Sorry to sound cynical but I think this is exactly what the government wants, ie. A “not my problem” attitude to the severely decreased wealth of a large section of society. I applaud all those involved in this volunteer work which helps people with food in their hour of need.

    The fact that we need food banks in a rich country like Great Britain is a testament to the abject failure of politics and policies in this country. Greed rules the nation and it’s not a pretty sight. I look forward to the day when Food Banks become redundant.

  2. derek thrower says:

    At least someone can tell right from wrong. Our politicians do not seem blessed with this skill.

  3. John Chandler says:

    Anger? It is sickening and disgusting beyond belief that our economy has been directed in this way.
    More than 2,500 foodbanks nationally. Steadily increased over the years. It’s not some unfortunate outcome of a ‘cost of living’ crisis. The more poverty there is the more likely the work force is going to accept hideously unfair working conditions. Zero contracts or your family starves. Get out of Europe with those pesky human rights that get in the way of exploitation. This number of foodbanks is a deliberate policy. Welcome to sweat-shop Britain.

  4. Ian Kierans says:

    Reverend Russell Furley- Smith is right and wrong.

    He is right for all the reasons stated.

    This Government should resource a national program to end hunger in its domain.
    This Council should resource a local program to end hunger in its domain.

    Neither should rely on charities, volunteers, and residents, to meet this fundamental human need.

    Neither should prevent charities, volunteers, and residents from actively supporting the provision of food, either by default, or removing suppport.

    He is wrong not to celebrate.
    We all should celebrate that charities, organisations businesses and most of all people in this Borough who give of themselves daily, whether it be an item of food to the food box at Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Lidl wherever one shops, via those fast food places that give to homesless people or even use the too good to go app as it all helps, – to the volunteers who collect prepare and cook meals in churches to banks that can provide staples and organisation that facilitate that.

    We should not forget the large trusts and organisations that many charities are reliant on for some funding in the absence of that Government and Council help.

    We should celebrate (and be sad) that even gambling via the National Lottery via it’s Community fund delivers money albeit small amount in comparison to its other causes towards tackling hunger.

    We should celebrate the little even this Council does (and condem what they do not)

    I for one, look forward to when we can focus on human needs other than just those to exist – like air, water, food, shelter, sanitation, touch, sleep and personal space.

  5. Peter Underwood says:

    The people who work in our food banks, our community kitchens, and the many community support services to help people in need, are fantastic. The support they receive in money and donations from the wider community is also something we should be proud of.

    What we should be ashamed about is that foodbanks are needed in the first place.

    We live in one of the richest countries in the world. The number of UK billionaires has increased by over 20% in just the past three years. That increase is matched by the number of people forced to resort to foodbanks because of cuts to wages and benefits and price rises. Those cuts and price rises were decided by millionaires to increase profits for them and the billionaires.

    I believe we need to
    – restore the stock of social housing,
    – have a real living wage,
    – have an affordable cap on rents,
    – public control over public services to bring prices down to affordable levels,
    – and a universal basic income

    Everyone should have a roof over their head, the energy to heat their homes, and at least the basic level of food and clothing for their family.

    If the system is making a few rich people richer while it makes the rest of us poorer, it is clearly failing. We need a system that works for everyone and for that we need politicians willing to make it happen.

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