“Belfast, Liverpool and London unite against
hunger during Right To Food Week 2023”
The signs of deepening hardship can be seen in every part of the UK, with longer and longer queues at foodbanks and baby formula under lock and key in supermarkets. Almost 1 in 5 (18%) households in the UK are now experiencing food insecurity and more than half a million children fell below the poverty line
in the last year.
Liverpool West Derby MP Ian Byrne is Parliamentary lead for the Right to Food Campaign, which aims to make access to food a legal right for all.
Ian has this week tabled a motion in Parliament in support of Right To Food Week 2023, which gets under way on Monday.
This is a national week of action which aims to increase awareness of food poverty in the UK and to bring people together to ensure the collective demand for a Right to Food is heard.
From Monday 18th September to Saturday 23 September, a range of Right To Food Week activities will take place across the UK.
In Liverpool, a range of community organisations in Liverpool are holding banner-making sessions during the week, ahead of a ‘Hunger March’ in the city on Saturday 23 September.
Community organisations Feeding Liverpool and Food For Thought have been holding briefing sessions for the city’s schools on how they can participate in Right To Food Week 2023, with many schools expected to be involved next week.
Banner-making sessions and leafleting on the Right To Food Campaign are also taking place at Fans Supporting Foodbanks food pantries across Liverpool next week, including West Derby, Lodge Lane, Vauxhall, Fazakerley and Netherley.
In Ian Byrne MP’s Liverpool West Derby constituency, a banner-making session will take place at the Fans Supporting Foodbanks food pantry at Mary’s Millennium Centre on Friday 22nd September, 9.30-10.30am. Any banners made will be used in the Liverpool Hunger March on Saturday 23 September.
Details of how people can get involved in Right To Food Week 2023 can be found online at: www.ianbyrne.org/rtfweek2023
In the finale to the week of action, marches against hunger and in support of a legal Right To Food are being held in London, Liverpool and Belfast on Saturday 23 September.
Liverpool Hunger March
The Liverpool march will commence at 12 noon at St George’s Hall steps, and the march will go the Bombed Out Church (Famine Monument) and then on to The Casa for a campaign rally at 1pm. There will be several speakers at the rally plus a performance from the fabulous Mel Bowen, who will be playing a very special hand-made guitar that was recently donated to the Right To Food Campaign.
At the start of the Liverpool March, Writing on the Wall (WOW) will present a ten minute play about George Garrett and his role in the unemployed movements of the 1920s, including the 1922 National Hunger March. The title of the piece is 100 Years Hard – George Garrett and the 1922 Hunger March. Actors will carry placards with images of the 1922 Hunger March and slogans, linking their struggles then to those today. They will then join the Liverpool march to the Bombed Out Church and on to the Casa.
Ian Byrne MP said: “Access to food is a basic human right and that is the key message of our Right To Food campaign. We are seeking several measures to address food poverty, including universal free school meals, food security, greater support for community kitchens and sufficient levels of benefits and wages. We know that food poverty leads to health and life expectancy inequality, malnutrition, obesity and a host of other related problems, including even long-term genetic changes. It will affect children’s educational attainment and life chances. Less measurable but no less important, is the effect on individual human dignity and social cohesion. I invite all those who wish to eliminate the scourge of food poverty to join us at St George’s Hall steps at 12 noon on Saturday 23 September.”
Mike Morris, Co-Director of Writing on the Wall, said: “The Liverpool Contingent of the first National Hunger March to London in 1922 was led by seaman, writer and social activist, George Garrett. Writing on the Wall and The George Garrett Archive Project are supporting the Campaign for the Right to Food by presenting ‘One Hundred Years Hard’ a short Agit-Prop play based around Garrett’s Writings about the 1922 Hunger March, at the beginning of the Liverpool Hunger March 2023.”
London Hunger March
The London Hunger March will meet at 12 noon at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London N17 OBX. At 1pm attendees will march to Tottenham Green, N15 4JA, to a Community Festival of Resistance with speeches, food, performances and workshops from 2pm.
Right To Food London organiser Dr Sharon Noonan-Gunning said: “London is one of the wealthiest cities in the world yet we face rising food insecurity, which means increases in hunger and malnutrition due to inequalities in wealth across London. We say no to this outrage and we do not accept this situation, so we are taking to the streets of London on Saturday 23rd September to demand the Right To Food. We are marching against hunger with our third Hunger March in Haringey and a rally in Newham and we’ll continue our marches across London to build our movement and win a legal Right To Food for all.”
Belfast Right To Food Rally
A rally in Belfast will assemble outside Belfast City Hall at 1pm. This has been organised by Paul Doherty, a founder of Footstock, which supports hundreds of families in West Belfast with a range of issues from providing food, to assisting with the provision of school uniforms. Foodstock have also hosted cooking
demonstrations, employment support, benefits advice and English language classes for refugees.
Paul said: “As someone who sees first-hand the struggle that faces many families in West Belfast and right across our city to put food on the table, it’s more important than ever that we come together for this rally in the heart of Belfast to support the Right To Food campaign.
“Too many children are going to school hungry, parents are being forced to skip meals and older people are left alone and suffering in silence. We need to send a clear message to the British government and those impeding progress here that we will not allow this to continue.”
The Right To Food Campaign has five key demands which, if implemented by Government, would be a huge step towards eradicating hunger.
- Universal free school meals. No child should go hungry and the Right To Food campaign is calling for free school meals for every child.
- Government to state how much of minimum wages and benefits (on which people are expected to live) is for food. The Right To Food Campaign wants Government to reveal how much money is factored in for food when setting minimum/living wages and benefits.
- Independent enforcement of legislation. Right To Food legislation must be accompanied by oversight and enforcement powers granted to a new independent regulatory body that will hold Government to account.
- Community Kitchens. The Right To Food Campaign believes Community Kitchens provide a workable solution to food poverty. Government should fund dining clubs and ‘meals-on-wheels’ services for the elderly and vulnerable, school holiday meals for those most in need and cookery clubs for the wider community.
- Ensured food security. Government must ensure food security and take this into account when setting competition, planning, transport, local government and all other policy.
The campaign has gone from strength to strength over the last 24 months.
Collaboration with councils, trade unions, football clubs, faith leaders, community groups, health workers, local businesses, politicians, and many more, has built pressure on the Government through collective action and solidarity, including:
- 25 Right to Food cities and towns: Since Liverpool became the first ‘Right to Food City’ in the UK in 2021, there are now 25 areas signed up, and millions of people who can say they live in a Right to Food city. Right to Food cities and towns now include: Liverpool, Liverpool Combined Authority, Manchester, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Rotherham, Brighton and Hove, St Helens, Preston, Lancaster, Durham, Newcastle, Portsmouth, Totnes, Coventry, Sheffield, Birmingham, Haringey, Brent, Lewisham, Lambeth, Hackney, Southwark, Islington, Cumberland and Southampton.
- 53,000 people: signed a petition to Parliament demanding a Right to Food in UK law.
- 59 MPs: signed a Motion in Parliament calling for a Right to Food Trade Union Congress: representing more than 5.5 million workers, passed a motion supporting our calls for a Right to Food.
- Downing Street: campaigners from across the country came to Downing Street to hand in our open letter demanding a Right to Food and our key campaign requests, including Universal Free School Meals.