Francesca and Herb from the Brighton Fitzherbert Community Hub highlighted their mission to reduce food poverty and social isolation by welcoming and nourishing all with food, friendship and fun. A team of 24 volunteers form the Catholic Parish of East Brighton, operates a food bank in St John the Baptist parish hall every Sunday afternoon. The food hub provides food and basic toiletries for more than 300 people a week, many of whom have been experiencing increased need as a result of the financial impact of Covid-19. You can find out more on the Fitzherbert website.
Kayode Akintola from CAFOD gave a highly thought-provoking presentation on CAFOD’s work in Sierra Leone, exploring the issues that the community there faces as a result of COVID-19 and the challenges of climate change and external economic forces. Sierra Leone ‘locked down’ early during the global pandemic and appears to have COVID-19 under control, unfortunately its people have paid a very high economic price, with the vast majority missing meals or eating less. Income has dropped for 57% of households while food prices have risen by up to 18%. The situation is extremely challenging though Kayode explored a range of positive initiatives including the Holy Rosary Women’s Cooperative and Youth Empowerment Projects utilising greenhouse technology.
The third speaker of the morning was Greg Valerio who spoke about The Society of St Columba, an initiative dedicated to demonstrating that following Jesus ‘makes common sense, is good for the soul and good for rebuilding and strengthening community’. Greg explored the work being undertaken at St Columba’s highlighting that there is a way to live and love that can work with the natural world. You can find out more here.
Fundraising Officer, Mia Stace, was the penultimate speaker of the day. Mia spoke on behalf on the Diocese, highlighting the recent work that has been done to combat food poverty in Sussex and Surrey as a result of a grant from the Gubay Foundation. The diocesan Supermarket Hardship Voucher Scheme has seen the distribution of food vouchers to people and families in need across our Diocese with the assistance of our wonderful parishes and schools. More than 800 people have benefitted from the scheme to date, though the programme is ongoing. Please contact your parish priest or school headteacher if you or someone you know could needs help. To access vouchers for your church or school contact Mia.
Lastly the Assembly heard from Felicity Dick of Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group (GDWG). Gatwick Detainees was set up in 1995 when the UK Immigration Service began to detain people at a small holding centre near Gatwick Airport. The following year, Tinsley House Detention Centre was built, and the organisation became a registered charity. GDWG works to improve the welfare and well-being of people held in detention, by offering friendship and support and advocating for fair treatment. The charity currently needs volunteer interpreters who speak: Farsi, Kurdish Sorani, Tigrinya and Oromo - who can help during working hours. Please contact the charity here if you can help.
The Justice & Peace Zoom event was recorded, unfortunately technical issues mean we aren't able to share this footage with you. To find out more about the organisations who spoke at the event please visit the website links above.