LONDON — Jacob Rees-Mogg has been challenged by volunteers in his own constituency to work in a food bank so he can experience the reality of those who use them.
On Thursday, the Conservative MP for North East Somerset said that the rise of food banks across the UK is “rather uplifting” as it shows the British people are charitable, and they showed “what a good compassionate country we are.”
Rees-Mogg, who is the current favourite amongst Tory members to become the next party leader, has been told he should visit a food bank in Bath to see how they are used.
Sarah Partridge, a volunteer at the Bath food bank in Rees-Mogg’s consistency Somerset, told the Daily Mirror newspaper: “I would love Mr Rees-Mogg to sit by my side as I interview someone with real problems who has had their benefits stop, been sanctioned, been forced onto the streets, I would like him to see that.
“I would like him to sit in front of me when I have been faced with a hard-working nurse who works full time who cannot afford to pay for food, I would like to have him on the spot to see how hard volunteers work at these places and how hard life is for people who are forced to use them.”
The food bank is part of the Trussell Trust network and while only open for two hours a day can get up to twenty visitors. Last year the Trussell Trust provided 1,182,954 emergency food supplies to people in the UK, the highest level ever recorded.
Partridge added: “Of course food banks are wonderful but I think Mr Rees-Mogg has missed the point here, the point is there should not be a need for them in modern Britain.”
Pushed by a caller to the Nick Ferrari show on LBC Radio as to why the UK has seen a huge rise in the numbers of people seeking support at food banks under a Conservative government, the Tory MP had said it was because people now “know they are there.”
“The real reason for the rise in numbers is because people know they are there and Labour refused to tell them.”
Chris Price, the executive director of Pecan, which runs a food bank in south London, accused Rees-Mogg of being “unchristian” with his comments.
He told the Guardian: “What he is saying is that it is great that people are in poverty and that we are here to help them. It is a very unchristian thing to say.”
Garry Lemon, the head of media and external affairs at the Trussell Trust, said: “We agree that the work of volunteers and voluntary organisations is uplifting, but food banks are an emergency service and whilst they do all they can to offer support to people in crisis they cannot solve structural problems alone.”
Rees-Mogg has previously said that he is against gay marriage and abortion in any circumstance due to his Catholic beliefs.
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