Almost half of 16 to 25-year-olds have gone to bed hungry over the past year because of the rising cost of living. Centrepoint, a homeless support charity, says almost 25% have skipped work or education because of a lack of food. Last month, a peak in fuel prices drove inflation to a new high. Just under a third of young people admitted that household bills were the main reason for neglecting their diet. Heather Paterson – from Centrepoint, warns that in some cases, malnutrition can’t be reversed. Liam Purcell from Church Action on Poverty said “It’s almost like a perfect storm, we’ve been seeing a lot of issues happening, affecting people for years now – and with churches. “Younger people are always on lower incomes, they’re particularly affected by an insecure, unstable, labour market, where lots of people are working on zero hours contracts and unstable, unreliable work situations, which just aren’t enough to get by on.
“We’ve also seen enormous cuts in the level of benefits. The benefits were already at the point where people weren’t able to cope and we’re seeing enormous explosions in the number of people having to depend on food banks and other charitable gifts just to get by.” Churches have been the driving force behind many food banks. Purcell said: “We have a programme that we’ve found very successful in the last couple of years, helping people deal with crisis. We run a programme called your local pantry. “You pay a membership fee each week and then you get a basket of food and you go into the shop and choose, which saves people up to 780 pounds a year on their groceries. ” Purcell stresses whatever we do at community level though and in churches is not enough to fix the problem. He said: “We need government action to fix things like the situation with pay to potentially regulate energy costs and the cost of other things.”
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