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Salvation Army statement on the report: Walking the Breadline: The Scandal of Food Poverty in 21st Century Britain

30 May 2013 - 8:39am
| by Gaby

The Salvation Army runs a number of foodbanks nationwide

The Salvation Army welcomes the report today and agrees that food poverty and increasing reliance on emergency food is not sustainable for those trapped in the cycle of dependency.

From the very beginning, The Salvation Army set itself against hunger. When our founder William Booth first began his ministry, he reached out to the poorest and most vulnerable people. One of the things all these people had in common was a severe difficulty with getting enough food to get them through the day.

Today we still work with communities around the UK, and our local churches are seeing unprecedented demand for emergency food.

 [Read more: The Salvation Army and fighting food poverty in the UK and overseas]

The Salvation Army has a holistic approach to dealing with people. When somebody comes to a church or community centre, they are sat down, made a cup of tea, and the reasons for their food poverty systematically gone through, whilst we determine what the best way to help is.

Commissioner Clive Adams, Territorial Commander of The Salvation Army in the UK, “We are finding that the problems with food poverty are coming from the benefits system and delays in payments.

So, today we are calling on Job Centres and Local Authorities to give people information about hardship payments and emergency payments as routine and see the needs of the individual.”

On the ground experience:

The Salvation Army will continue to focus on the individual and how they can get themselves out of poverty, into work, and onto a path where they can be the very best of themselves as God intended.

At our church in Preston, Captain Alex is experiencing intense demand on its food bank, to the extent that it has had to accept only those who have been referred through the local authority and providers to it.

[Read more: Preston Salvation Army foodbank]

“Using referrals is really the only sustainable way we could do this,” he says, “given the demand we face.”

“It helps us with our approach to help the whole person. We’ll often get somebody in with no referral or papers and we’ll sit with them, talk through their situation and see what we can do to help them get back on their feet. We have a chance to see what the causes of their food poverty are,” he continues.

Captain Alex Cadogan of Preston Corps with foodbank volunteer

Captain Alex is convinced that offering long-term support can help combat a short-term food problem, “What you don’t want to be doing is just handing out food and taking no interest in the person,” he says.  “That creates a dependency, and when you do that, you’re not helping someone to liberate themselves, you’re just trapping them further.”

Captain Alex continues, “The Salvation Army believes in focusing on the whole person – once you understand their issues and what’s causing their hunger, then you can begin the long and difficult work of helping that person get into a better situation for themselves and begin to reach their God-given potential.”

Watch now: Media Officer Mike visits the foodbank at Preston Salvation Army

“Here at Preston, we have noticed a rise in the amount of people coming to us for assistance with food. It is a real need. But in order to truly address that need, we have to follow proper procedures, make people aware of the welfare they can access and equip them with the skills they need to find work.” he states.

“Otherwise we will leave people to languish in poverty, and depend on handouts for food beyond emergency situations, which is no road to dignity.”


Submitted by Ian Cannon on

There are genuine needy persons who really benefit from this facility, but unfortunately a lot of people are taking advantage of the easy availability of food parcels.I would strongly agree that monitoring and enquiries are necessary before they are made available, an ad hoc system is open to abuse. It is shameful when you see persons receiving parcels who obviously have been spending their cash benefits on alcohol and cigarettes then expecting the free supply of food parcels to facilitate these purchases.It is because the Salvation Army take responsible steps before providing that I am willing to support their efforts. Thank You for your good work.

Submitted by Alison Thomas on

I was in the the middle of a long drawn out divorce when I had two alternatives - feed my very sick cat or myself.The Salvation Army were only people to come to my rescue with food parcels and a kind word. I've never forgotten and now life is easier I donate when I can, just to say thanks. Bless you all.

Submitted by Peter Jackson on

There is an undeniable problem in our subculture of addicts both of hard drugs and alcohol needing sustenance. I can accept that the benefit system is not there to prop up a person's addiction and neither is the foodbank able to fulfil those requirements. On the face of it foodbanks are there for emergencies and to try to help a person through the quagmire they are faced with. For addicts it is not that simple whatever benefit they receive is swallowed up by their addiction. There are many who state simply "Get off the drugs". If it were that easy I feel most would, but it isn't and their need is consistent. Do we deny these people a weekly parcel because they are unable to escape the cycle they are in? Or do we condemn them to being forever hungry, which without adequate sustenance they become ill and an even bigger burden to our already overstretched NHS. It is not an overnight solution, but helping them by supplying food parcels does at least keep them in contact with society and through the church a spiritual contact, whereby eventually it is possible to gain their trust and hopefully help them to find the strength to go through rehab.

Submitted by Kathy Pike on

There are so many people in this country who know nothing about food banks etc except what they have read in our vindictive tabloid press but feel they have to express a negative opinion.
It strikes me (and I help out at a food bank, so I know a bit about the situation) that in Britain we must give up the idea that we can cure everybody of poverty - it is really only a question of getting them to overcome their laziness etc and everything will be fine. In the western world we are in decline (we are in GB, although we don't admit it) and we shall have to come to terms with the fact that, as long as money is so unevenly shared out and the poor are treated as unworthy beggars, we shall have people in chronic need. In France they do not seem to have the same prejudices on this subject and offer daily hot meals to those who are never going to be able to go out and get a job. Why can't we give up this myth about everybody being able to prosper and respond to the situation as it is, not as the government would like it to be.

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