“A tsunami of suffering will swamp hundreds of thousands of families in the UK, the like of which we have not seen in recent times”, warned the Director of Church Action on Poverty (CAP) on Saturday. Speaking at a quarterly meeting of the National Justice and Peace Network (NJPN), held at CAFOD’s London headquarters, he was referring to the impact of government austerity measures.
“The need for the option for the poor in UK has never been greater” said Niall Cooper, whose stories included a woman in Hertfordshire with four children who has just been informed that her benefits will be capped and is “scared stiff” that she will only have around £10 a week left for food after other expenses. “She is not alone” he said, pointing to the mushrooming of food banks as proof of widespread hardship, suggesting that although a humanitarian crisis needs a humanitarian response the churches need to be active in addressing the underlying causes. He knew Justice and Peace activists would be familiar with Jim Wallis of the Sojourners Community in the US who said that, “the churches are fantastic at pulling drowning people out of the river, but a part of the churches’ task is to go upstream and see what is driving them into the river”.