The Bishop at Lambeth, Rt Rev Tim Thornton, has called for 'urgent and concerted action' to meet Britain's poverty crisis.
Thornton, whose role involves acting as a senior adviser to the Archbishop of Canterbury, is a trustee of the charity Feeding Britain. He spoke out as the Church Urban Fund released results of a survey showing lack of money caused one in nine Britons to miss celebrating a birthday or other special occasion last year, according to research published today by the Church Urban Fund.
The charity commissioned research into food poverty and financial distress in Britain. It found that in 2016, 11 per cent of adults missed celebrating a birthday, Christmas, or other special occasion because they were unable to afford items such as presents or celebratory food.
The survey of 2,048 adults, conducted by ComRes, found that during 2016, five per cent of adults had gone without meals because they could not afford food and one in 50 British adults – almost a million people said they had used a food bank.
Four per cent of adults said that in 2016 they had gone without meals so that their children or other household members had enough to eat. One in eight said they had experienced anxiety or worry about being able to afford enough food for themselves and their family during 2016. Of those interviewed, 14 per cent said they had cut down on the amount of fresh food they buy such as fruit and vegetables to save money.
Food poverty disproportionately affects younger people. While almost one in 10 Britons aged 25 to 34 years old said they had gone without meals in 2016 as they were unable to afford food, just one in a hundred of those aged 65 and over reported having done so.
Thornton said: 'Thousands of volunteers, most of them, but not all coordinated by churches have come together in recent years to get involved in food banks and other services for people struggling financially.
'This survey confirms that they are responding to a widespread and pressing need and that food poverty extends far beyond food bank use alone. Urgent and concerted action is needed across government, the private sector, civil society and statutory agencies, in order to tackle this problem.'
Church Urban Fund Executive Director Paul Hackwood said: 'These findings reveal a deeply troubling picture of food insecurity throughout Britain. Those affected don't just go hungry or poorly nourished – they suffer isolation, are excluded from participating in social activities and experience considerable anxiety.
'Church Urban Fund is working hard alongside other charities, churches, faith groups and community organisations to support those affected by food poverty, isolation and financial difficulties. But we cannot solve this problem alone. We are calling on all those with the power to make a difference to play an active role in resolving this urgent issue.'