Together Liverpool is joining the Bishop of Liverpool in backing the campaign to enshrine the 'Right to Food' in UK law. We are encouraging churches to support a petition calling on government to tackle the food insecurity crisis.

The Right Reverend Paul Bayes has issued a joint call with Together Liverpool and our partners Feeding Liverpool and Micah Liverpool, backing the 'Right to Food' petition calling on government to tackle the food insecurity crisis.

As a partnership we have been instrumental in supplying over 30,000 food parcels to local people in poverty throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, supporting churches and volunteers to provide vital supplies through foodbanks, pantries and community markets.

Bishop Paul has invited churches across the diocese to support the Right to Food campaign, first led by Liverpool-based national grassroots football fan network Fans Supporting Foodbanks, and backed in Parliament by Liverpool West Derby MP Ian Byrne, a co-founder of Fans Supporting Foodbanks.

He urged Christians across the city region to speak out, to hold governments to account and call on decision makers to take proactive steps to prevent the stark realities of poverty being witnessed at foodbanks and other community organisations.

It comes after Liverpool city councillors unanimously voted for the ‘Right to Food’ to be incorporated into the Government’s national food strategy and subsequently become law, making Liverpool the UK’s first ‘Right to Food’ city.

Ellen Loudon Trustee

Together Liverpool’s chair Reverend Canon Dr Ellen Loudon, Director of Social Justice and Canon Chancellor for the Diocese of Liverpool is also chair of Micah Liverpool.

Canon Ellen said: “Our staff and volunteers at Together Liverpool, Micah Liverpool and our partners including those we supply through our partnership with Feeding Liverpool, witness daily the shocking reality of poverty experienced by people living on the breadline.

“We are proud of the community spirit which means local people continue to act as a safety net for each other, through foodbanks, pantries and community markets, but we should not have to exist.

“It is scandalous that anyone should go hungry in the UK today and we urgently call on everyone to back this campaign by signing the Right to Food petition online and please encourage your friends and family to do the same."

Bishop Paul said: “Through this campaign we are calling on the Government to embed the Right to Food into law, building a system of legal safeguards which can protect the most vulnerable in our society.

"As Christians, we believe food is a gift given from God to all human beings, not just to some. We want to live in a society where everyone is able to afford healthy and nutritious food, where food is a source of enjoyment not of anxiety, and where nobody goes to bed hungry.

“Sadly, this vision is not yet a reality. In 2021, churches, alongside hundreds of community groups and voluntary organisations, continue to ‘stand in the gap’, offering vital support to prevent households being pulled further into poverty. From Southport to Wigan, Widnes to Liverpool, churches continue to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, provide shelter for the weary and offer comfort to the bereaved and lonely.”

Bishop Paul and Canon Ellen both also recently attended an Assembly on Sustainable and Affordable Food organised by VS6, a partnership representing the voluntary and faith sectors across the city region, focused on developing an affordable and sustainable food policy for the city region.

The Right To Food campaign is being backed in Parliament by Liverpool West Derby MP Ian Byrne, a co-founder of Fans Supporting Foodbanks. In December he tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM) in Parliament on Food Insecurity which has secured the support of more than fifty MPs so far.

Mr Byrne said: “Liverpool can be a catalyst for the systemic changes we need to tackle the evils of food poverty so we are delighted to receive the support from the Bishop, Together Liverpool and Micah Liverpool in our campaign to put the Right to Food into legislation for all.”

Bishop Paul has long been an advocate of efforts to combat food insecurity, and his appointment as the Eighth Bishop of Liverpool was announced from the foodbank at St Andrew’s church in Clubmoor, part of St Andrew’s Community Network.

Bishop Paul Foodbank 86
Bishop of Liverpool the Right Reverend Paul Bayes, at the foodbank at St Andrew’s Church, Clubmoor

He has previously advocated strongly for the government to make its benefit system fit for purpose, condemning the negative impact of benefits sanctions including the Universal Credit five week wait, has called the need for foodbanks a “scandal”, and is a signatory on the End Hunger UK campaign. He is joint chair of the Citywide Strategy Group for Fairness and Tackling Poverty, along with Councillor Jane Corbett, Mayoral Lead - Fairness & Tackling Poverty.

The Bishop added: “In supporting the Right to Food campaign we are inviting you to speak out, to call on the decisions makers in this country to take a proactive step towards preventing the stark realities we are seeing and hearing in our foodbanks, night shelters, afterschool clubs, parent and toddler groups, coffee mornings, and communities today.

“We invite you to hold subsequent governments to account, ensuring their policies work towards the vision agreed through the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals, and to lay a precious cornerstone in building a society where every household can afford healthy and nutritious food.”

Feeding Liverpool, Liverpool’s Food Alliance, which works in partnership with Together Liverpool and Micah Liverpool to tackle food insecurity, is also supporting the campaign.

The National Food Strategy is the first independent review of England’s entire food system for seventy-five years, led by British entrepreneur and cookery writer Henry Dimbleby.

It next reports to Government in Spring and the Right To Food campaign wants the eleven million people currently living in food poverty in the UK to be placed at the heart of its strategy.

The motion voted through by Liverpool City Councillors last week noted the consistently high rates of poverty across the city of Liverpool and the growing concern amongst the city’s health and social care professionals over the current situation and the likely exacerbation of poverty through the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and economic uncertainty in 2021.

What can you do?

We are encouraging Christians across the Diocese of Liverpool to support the 'Right to Food' petition calling on government to tackle the food insecurity crisis

Sign the petition