‘Breadline Question Time’ event will challenge the growing crisis of food poverty in Wales

Stephen is joining forces with The United Reformed Church and the Trussell Trust to take the debate on food poverty to the pews, for a “Breadline Question Time” event this week.

The event is on Friday, July 4, from 8pm to 10pm, at City United Reformed Church, Windsor Place, Cardiff. Stephen and fellow panellists will debate the increasing rise of foodbank usage and the impact of food poverty on families in Wales.

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The event follows a damning report by Oxfam, Church Action on Poverty and the Trussell Trust that reveals the use of foodbanks in Wales to be disproportionately high in relation to the population.

Tens of thousands of people are living below the breadline in Wales, relying on foodbanks to feed themselves and their families. In the 2013/2014 financial year, 51,148 adults and 27, 901 children relied on Trussell Trust foodbanks in Wales. Housing benefit cuts and changes to council tax support has, according to research undertaken by Oxfam and the New Policy Institute, left 1.75 million of the poorest families in the UK significantly worse off.

Tony Graham, Trussell Trust foodbank network manager, Wales, said: “The Welsh population has been hit hard by welfare cuts, falling incomes, high unemployment and a rise in living costs. In the past year we have witnessed a 120 percent rise in the use of Trussell Trust foodbanks over the previous financial year.

“We’re doing our best to help the 79,049 people who have relied on our foodbanks in the last year alone, but we also need to be asking why this is happening? I’m hoping that Friday’s debate will offer a platform to highlight the facts about food poverty and bring about a better understanding of the reality of life for people struggling on low incomes, so that politicians of all parties can push through policies that help the poorest.”

Cardiff South and Penarth MP, Stephen Doughty said: “In far too many cases, hard-working families in my constituency – as is the case right across the country – are finding that there is just too much month left at the end of their money.

“Shocking figures from my local foodbanks reveal that increasing numbers of families are unable to put food on their table and meet the most basic of needs as they continue to face a cost-of-living crisis.

“My sincere appreciation goes out to the generous and dedicated volunteers and donors who, on a daily basis, make sure that those who do find themselves below the breadline don’t also go hungry.”

Confirmed panellists are: Stephen Doughty, Labour MP for Cardiff South and Penarth; Tony Graham, Trussell Trust foodbank network manager, Wales; Julie Jarman, programme manager, Church Action on Poverty; and Kirsty Davies, head of Oxfam Cymru.

Dr Andrew Bradstock, the United Reformed Church secretary for church and society, said: “Breadline Question Time will offer the opportunity to raise awareness about food poverty and explore what is actually happening in our communities – asking key questions like, why is it that more than half a million children in the UK are now living in families who are unable to provide acceptable diets?; are foodbanks simply a bandage on the wound of food poverty? and do we – and government – need to be doing more to address the factors that result in so many people in Wales struggling for a decent standard of life?

“These tough questions need to be addressed and the Church is the right place to be asking them. Churches have long been at the centre of the struggle to overcome social injustice – including the injustice of food poverty.”

* “Breadline Question Time” is a fringe event of the United Reformed Church’s General Assembly 2014, which is taking place 3 to 6 July, St David’s Hall, Cardiff. It’s open to all and the organisers are hoping for a large, diverse, audience.

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