A call to Churches: We all have a part to play in ensuring no child goes hungry this summer

(Photo: Unsplash/Michał Parzuchowski)

At a time of crisis where so many people need additional support, charities and church networks are joining together to enable and equip local churches across the UK to respond quickly and urgently. It is not too late to join in and be a part of that vital response.

The global pandemic is something we will be talking about for the rest of our lives. We will remember where we were when the Prime Minister announced the lockdown. We will never forget the 'new normal' we all had to adapt to.

Covid-19 has affected all of us, with many already talking about the impact it will have for years to come. For families living on the poverty line, it has been an intense and seemingly unceasing battle through financial and food insecurity.

Due to the financial impact of the global pandemic, millions more households who were managing before will now find themselves facing financial and food insecurity, not knowing where to turn for support. This is in addition to the millions of households already living on the poverty line prior to the current crisis, which only exacerbated their financial struggle.

We are grateful for the provisions the Government has put in place to provide food for those who rely on Free School Meals – including the recent expansion over the summer holidays. However, the support many vulnerable families need is about so much more than this.

A time of unprecedented need calls for an unprecedented community response.

The church has a critical role to play in this. Charities and church networks are joining together to enable and equip local churches across the UK to respond quickly and urgently.

Yourneighbour.org is one of the many networks involved in this initiative. Their Chair, Dr Russell Rook, commented, "While the lockdown is starting to ease, the need isn't. As Christians we want to demonstrate our love for those around us, and this is a pivotal moment for us to do so ... Time is short, the need is great - and we need churches across the UK to rise to the challenge and work with their local school."

Throughout the pandemic, schools have been increasingly concerned for many children they know are in urgent need of financial and emotional support. Children being supported by schemes such as the Free School Meal vouchers still need the additional provision of their local community to ensure they do not go hungry. Parents struggling on a low income still need support to stop them going without essential supplies during the course of the pandemic. Isolated families, cut off from their usual support networks, are in desperate need of care and connection from the Church to show them they are not alone.

We're calling on local churches across the UK to join us in stepping up to meet the needs of children and families across the UK, offering a lifeline to so many. Church networks and charities have come together to provide initiatives that churches can easily join, which will equip them to do this. However, we need churches to act urgently to build a support network and form a relationship with local schools before the summer break.

The impact of COVID-19 calls for a community-wide response. We need churches and individuals to play their part in getting alongside struggling families - offering care, connection and a vital support network.

TLG's 'Boxes of Hope' initiative is doing just that, equipping local churches to personally respond to the needs of families on their doorsteps. As a result, churches have already provided over 92,000 equivalent meals to over 2,000 children and their families – and this is rising each week. This is a brilliant response but there is still so much need. We don't want any child to be hungry and are inviting every church across the UK to join us in responding to the need in their local communities.

Charities and church networks have worked hard to make it as easy as possible for churches to support families on their doorstep. It is not too late to join in and be part of that vital response in time for the summer break.

If you would like to find out more about how your church can support the families in your local area, in partnership with organisations who will equip and support your church in this mission, click here.

Beth Prescott is Policy Lead at Transforming Lives for Good, a national children's charity with 20 years' experience equipping churches to support children and families in their local community.