Level of hunger in Britain is 'disturbing'

(AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)

The Evangelical Alliance (EA) has joined the call to the Government and politicians to take urgent action to end escalating food poverty in Britain.

Representing two million evangelical Christians across scores of denominations, the EA believes that it is time that hunger was dealt with swiftly by British politicians.

Over half a million Brits have received three days' emergency food from Trussell Trust foodbanks since last Easter, while hospitals are reporting a doubling in the number of people being admitted for malnutrition.

Welfare cuts, wage freezes and the rising cost of food are all adding to the problem which church leaders have declared a "national crisis".

"Hunger in the UK is a real issue which must be of concern to us all, including the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party," said director general of the EA Steve Clifford.

"We normally associate malnutrition with developing countries wracked by food shortages and poverty, but it's disturbing to learn that malnutrition is right here on our own doorsteps.

"Last year more than 5,500 people were admitted to UK hospitals suffering with malnutrition. No one should be allowed to go hungry in Britain. Many of our member churches are playing their part hosting and stocking food banks and we need the political parties to do play their part as well."

An End Hunger Fast campaign has been launched to encourage people all over the UK to fast on April 4 as an act of protest and in solidarity with thousands of people who are regularly forced to go without food.

Campaigners are also being encouraged to support their local foodbank, lobby their MP, and write to Secretary of Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith about their concerns.

"The foodbank debate should not be about party politics, it should be about recognising the reality of what's happening right now in our nation, listening to the voices of the people who struggle to feed their families," says chairman of the Trussell Trust Chris Mould, who is supporting the campaign.

"We need to wake up to the hunger on our doorsteps, and ask urgent, in depth questions about why this is happening and then be brave enough to take action to stop it. We'd urge people to add their voice to the call to end hunger, fast."

The Trussell Trust is set to release new statistics that detail the escalating crisis later this month.

Mr Clifford is one of the signatories to a letter from the End Hunger Fast campaign, which will be delivered to David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband on 16 April.

Mr Clifford said the figures are "astonishing and disturbing", and notes that there has been a "quantum leap" in the number of those facing hunger in the past 12 months.

His assertions are backed up by those on the front line.  Manager of Arnold Foodbank in Nottingham, Helen Lloyd, says the number of those resorting to the emergency service has tripled in the past 15 months.

For more information on the campaign and to pledge support, go to www.endhungerfast.co.uk