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Liverpool: cathedrals join forces to launch new food bank

Liverpool’s two Cathedrals have teamed up with city centre faith partners to launch the Hope+ Foodbank ...

Liverpool’s two Cathedrals have teamed up with city centre faith partners to launch the Hope+ Foodbank ...

Hope+ Foodbank – named after the street that connects both Cathedrals – has also been given a £49,770 set up grant from Mayor Joe Anderson’s Mayoral Fund.

The founding of the foodbank comes after reports of increasing levels of poverty in the wake of local government and public sector funding cuts, highlighted in January at a conference for council and community leaders hosted by Bishop James Jones and Mayor Anderson.

The two Cathedrals are working with the Anglican St Luke in the City Team (which includes St Luke’s, St Bride’s, St Dunstan’s, St Michael’s and St Stephen with St Catherine’s) and St Vincent De Paul RC Church to run the Hope+ Foodbank, which will provide essential food for those referred by partner agencies such as Social Services, GPs, CAB, and other charities.

Both Cathedrals will support the administration of the foodbank and act as a depository for the food which will be distributed from churches around the city centre on different days. They are also hoping to work with different faiths across the city.

As well as helping with the day to day running of the foodbank – which is staffed entirely by volunteers - the money from the Mayoral Fund will help the Hope+ Foodbank offer even more facilities. It has plans to open a debt advice centre, provide lessons on cooking on a budget and offer computer facilities to help people in their job searches.

Dean of Liverpool Pete Wilcox said: “The Church Urban Fund recently issued a league table of the most deprived parishes in the Church of England – and the top two were in Toxteth. What we as a cathedral cannot do is ignore those levels of deprivation on our doorstep. In reaching out to those in need, we are responding to the challenge Christ gave to his followers in Matthew 25:35, ‘I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink’. Current levels of deprivation are startling, and are likely to get worse before they get better. As a cathedral we have both a duty to serve Liverpool in this way, and the privilege of doing so.”

Canon Anthony O'Brien, Dean of Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral said: “Our two Cathedrals have a long track record of working together to witness the values of the Gospel, and of co-operating with other agencies for the common good of our City and local communities. In response to an increase in poverty and unemployment within the city areas the Hope+ Foodbank is an initiative to provide basic food essentials to families and individuals who are not able to afford them within our local area. It is a practical response to help our neighbours at a time of need and in the words of Jesus ‘in so far as you did this to these brothers and sisters of mine you did it to me’”.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “Times are hard. People are struggling to cope with rising bills, cuts to benefits and the effects of the recession. Many are struggling to feed their families. Food banks are playing a vital role in helping some of the people in our city who are most desperately in need. That is why I have committed cash from my Mayoral Fund to help support the Hope Food bank, and others in the city. It’s just sad that, in 21st Century Britain, ordinary people are having to turn to foodbanks for help through no fault of their own.”
Guy Elsmore, Rector of St Luke in the City Team Ministry said: "Looking back through the parish archives, we know that our churches were distributing food to those in need, on a regular basis, between the 1830s and 1930s. The needs around us today are such that it is now necessary and right to offer food to those in need, once more. It is also right to say this is a tragedy. Hunger in the world’s seventh richest country is a scandal. The State is failing its people."
Rev Canon Cynthia Dowdle from Liverpool Cathedral added: “I am so pleased that we have launched the Hope+ project with support from the Anglican churches of the Toxteth and Wavertree Deanery, the Metropolitan Cathedral and a variety of partners – notably our Mayor Joe Anderson who has awarded us a set up grant. The Hope+ initiative also aims to offer other support to those most in need in our community. We are committed to this being not just an inter-church activity but one involving people of other faith communities and all people of goodwill as we will offer the resources we have to everyone irrespective of race, religion or sexuality.”
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Photo (from left): Very Rev Dr Pete Wilcox (Dean of Liverpool), Rev Canon Cynthia Dowdle (Liverpool Cathedral), Rev Canon Anthony O'Brien (Dean of Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral)

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