Pause for Thought January 2019

I arrived at the Stamford Food Bank one day last week, and found that there had been clients waiting to enter the building even before the doors opened.  It was a freezing cold day at the start of December, and I wondered how they would be spending the rest of the month and especially Christmas.  As you read this in January, perhaps we should all reflect whether their “festive season” was at all “festive” for them, and whether it was even a “season” at all, or rather just part of their continual way of life?  And this is Stamford, not Southampton or even Salford.  

Looking back to 2011, I remember the early discussions about the possible establishment of a Food Bank in Stamford.  The Christians Against Poverty centre in Stamford had just been started and a Food Bank had opened in Grantham, but the question was whether Stamford also needed a Food Bank.  It was realized that many people in need do not necessarily have a financial debt problem, as they may not have even been able to access credit before.  But Stamford seemed a mostly prosperous place, and there were doubts about whether there was need for a Food Bank too.  

How wrong we were to doubt: it soon became clear that the problem was much bigger that we had thought or feared, and that it was not just a short-term issue during the Government’s ”temporary” austerity programme: last year over 650 3-day food supplies were given out for 1,500 people in Stamford alone.

A recent survey by the Church Urban Fund found that 70% of Anglican churches run three or more organised activities, such as parent/carer and toddler groups, community cafes, lunch clubs for older people, holiday clubs and youth work, for the benefit of their local communities, and Stamford and the surrounding villages are no exception.

In particular, Barnack Church regularly takes donations to the Stamford Food Bank while Helpston Church takes donations to one in Peterborough, and the other local churches in our benefice provide support directly and indirectly too.  

Thank you so much to all those who help in this way.  But there is always more that we can do, whether through donations or through volunteering in the Food Banks or elsewhere.  Let’s all do what we can, and not just through this cold time of year, as the needs persist throughout the year.  It’s true that Jesus said that the poor and vulnerable will always be with us; but it’s also true that the Parable of the Good Samaritan was told us for a reason!