According to recent figures, the number of people in Kent who have accessed a food bank in the last 11 months has risen to more than 17,000. That’s a rise of 11 per cent since last year. Low incomes, changes to benefits, debt, and homelessness are just some of reasons, according to The Trussell Trust, behind the increase.
Rising food bank usage is indicative of the struggle many people are facing each day to make ends meet. Through Together Canterbury – the Diocese’s partnership with Church Urban Fund – more opportunities are now being made available to churches to assist those in their communities who need support.
One such initiative is the Cash Smart: Credit Savvy scheme: a simple and effective system designed to teaching people how to budget and improve their money skills. Two ‘Training the Trainer’ events are being run in May (26 May – Ashford) and June (30 June – Dover), designed to give churches and charitable organisations the tools and resources they need to share budgeting skills with others in their community.
Together Canterbury is also supporting Acts 435, the Archbishop of York’s online giving charity. It works by posting online real cases of need, which users can decide to contribute funds to or not; you can also restrict searches to your region too. The safeguard is that requests for help can only come once received and verified by a designated church advocate.
Keith Berry, Together Canterbury Officer for the Diocese, says he is now seeking to recruit Advocates and Donors from across the churches in our area to help form a network, so that anyone in need has a place to go for help: “The scheme already works very well across the country. A typical case might be an elderly couple needing a new fridge, or a young mother fleeing domestic abuse requiring help to buy nappies for her baby. ACTS 435 works because it recognises that people want to give, often a little, sometimes more, to people with genuine need.”
An information evening will take place on Tuesday 30 May in Canterbury and will be attended by Jenny Herrera, the Director of ACTS 435. To attend the evening, or for more information, contact Keith Berry at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07834 573668