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Gorleston church lays it all out on the table at hustings, urging politicians to make sure people can always afford the essentials.

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St Mary Magdalene Church, one of the centres of the Yarmouth and Magdalen Foodbank, has come together with their local community ahead of the General Election, to demonstrate why all politicians must prioritise urgent action to reduce hardship and ensure that everyone can afford the essentials.

At a hustings event last Thursday, hosted by the church, a table cloth was on display which captured stories of hope and hardship. Volunteers at foodbank sessions and other community groups at St Mary Magdalene, alongside people with lived experience of needing support, came together to share their stories on the tablecloth.

Rev Matthew Price, Vicar of St Mary Magdalene Church, said, “Our tablecloth tells the Magdalen’s unique story. We wanted to show the impact that hardship is having on our community which is why we’ve created a tablecloth with messages showing how urgently change is needed. We were delighted to be able to share it with the prospective parliamentary candidates at our hustings, as well as hold a space where our community could put their questions to the candidates.”

James Clark of the Conservative Party, Keir Cozens of the Labour Party and Rupert Lowe of the Reform Party, all attended the hustings and answered questions, alongside representatives from the Green Party and Liberal Democrats, Catherine Blaiklock from the English Democrats and Paul Brown, an independent candidate.

At the end of the hustings each of the candidates was asked whether they would respond to the Trussell Trust and Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s call for politicians to take urgent steps to reduce hardship in the UK, alongside a longer-term plan to ensure no one needs a food bank to survive.

Currently, around five in six low-income households in receipt of Universal Credit are going without the essentials. The plan put forward by the Trussell Trust and Joseph Rowntree Foundation includes urgent reform of social security, working towards an Essentials Guarantee which would protect everyone in receipt of Universal Credit from going without essentials. 

The table cloth activity is being repeated at food banks up and down the UK, as communities come together to demonstrate the scale of hardship across the country and the growing consensus for change. In the last year, Yarmouth&Magdalen Foodbank has distributed 3614 foodbank parcels to adults and 1747 foodbank parcels to children, as more and more people struggle to afford essentials such as food. 


The ‘Guarantee Our Essentials’ campaign is being run by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Trussell Trust, a charity supporting a network of more than 1,400 food bank centres across the UK.

A recording of the hustings which took place at St Mary Magdalene Church on 20th June can be found here: