Brand described Christian volunteers as kind and optimistic
During a visit to Canterbury Food Bank, TV presenter and comedian Russell Brand was impressed by the generosity of local people and heartened by the Christian volunteers serving within its warehouse. He wrote on Facebook: ‘The Christians are as Christians are: kind and optimistic. The donations come from ordinary local folk.’
After the release of statistics indicating an increased reliance on food banks, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said that more help is needed to prevent families in the UK going hungry. He recently wrote in the Mail on Sunday that food is being wasted at ‘astonishing’ levels and that hunger ‘stalks large parts’ of the UK.
According to director Chrissie Barr, the Canterbury Food Bank has received packages from previous recipients this year, some of whom have also volunteered. She claims that it has brought the local community together, both in terms of those who receive and the volunteers. ‘It seemed like a good way to worship Christ,’ she told Brand. Martin, another volunteer, told the presenter that poorer people tend to be more generous than richer members of the community. ‘People think that Canterbury is affluent, but all around us are pockets of the hidden hungry,’ he said.
This ‘hidden hungry’ phrase stuck in Brand’s mind. He believes that food banks offer a broader model for society. He concludes: ‘We voluntarily feed the poor when the government won’t do it…The Britain of the future will be born of alliances between ordinary, self-governing people, organised locally, communicating globally, built on principles that are found in traditions like Christianity: community, altruism, kindness, love.’
Meanwhile, Archbishop Welby has called on the government to back Feeding Britain, a £150m state-funded food bank system to help feed the UK’s poorest and provide financial advice. It aims to end hunger in the UK by 2020.
UK FOOD BANK STATISTICS (2013-14):
- 8,318 tons of food were donated
- Approximately 30,000 people volunteered
- 913,138 people were given three days’ worth of emergency food and support (330,225 of whom were children)
- Primary causes of food bank use include: benefits delays, low income and benefits changes
- Regionally, the highest numbers of food bank users were in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the North East and the North West
Source: The Trussell Trust
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