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Guildford’s Foodbanks Busier Than Ever Elevated Bishop Tells Lords

Published on: 16 May, 2022
Updated on: 16 May, 2022

“It is tough to live in a deprived community, … within a wealthy community,” the Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Revd Andrew Watson said in his maiden speech in the House of Lords last week.

In a debate on the government’s draft “Levelling Up” legislation, he told the Upper House of Parliament that the current inflationary pressures are making foodbanks across the Guildford diocese busier than ever.

Bishop Andrew, who joins 25 other senior Bishops sitting in the Lords, told the peers that although Guildford had a reputation of affluence, the diocese suffered from, “huge localised inequalities”.

He recalled visiting one of the 30 food banks in the region a couple of weeks ago and reminded his fellow peers, “It is tough to live in a deprived community, … within a wealthy community, … constantly surrounded by reminders of how the other half lives. Indeed, research has demonstrated time and again that the least happy societies are not the poorest but the most unequal.”

“While I would never wish to set the regional in competition with the local when it comes to the levelling-up agenda, I welcome the White Paper’s acknowledgement of both phenomena, and would encourage this House to keep both in mind as this debate develops over the coming months,” he said.

Bishop Andrew was formally introduced into the Lords in February by the Bishops of Birmingham and Carlisle and as a member of the upper chamber, Bishop Andrew will take a particular interest in Freedom of Religion and Belief.

Angela Richardson MP

Guildford’s MP Angela Richardson said: “I thought the Bishop’s maiden speech was a very well-considered contribution to the debate about levelling up, particularly regarding areas like Guildford, where there is greater prosperity but where pockets of deprivation remain.

“I agree with him that living in one of these communities is extremely difficult because the pathways to find help and support can be hard to access. He mentioned too the urgency to level up regions across the UK, which is one of the government’s key priorities.

“The Bishop welcomed the White Paper’s acknowledgement of these issues and I would be most happy to meet with him to learn from his insight and discuss with him what co-ordinated action we might take together to tackle inequality on a local basis.

“This government both during and after the pandemic has invested hugely in tackling inequality. It has protected jobs where they would otherwise have been lost, doubled the Housing Support Fund to help the most vulnerable, created a £5bn Levelling Up Fund to enhance local economies and create jobs and a £9bn fund announced in February to help families with rising energy bills.”

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Responses to Guildford’s Foodbanks Busier Than Ever Elevated Bishop Tells Lords

  1. Mike Adams Reply

    May 24, 2022 at 6:50 pm

    We are the only country in the world apart from Iran to give unelected clerics reserved seats in our legislature. With only four per cent of the population regularly attending Anglican churches and 52 per cent identifying as non-religious, the 26 Church of England bishops sitting as a privileged block in our House of Lords are an anachronism in our modern diverse and largely secular society.

  2. Mike Davis Reply

    May 24, 2022 at 6:54 pm

    How out of touch is our MP Angela Richardson to say there are pockets of deprivation in Guilford? The truth is the whole of Guildford has deprivation. She won’t even know where or when the first food bank opened its doors. As far as I know, she hasn’t even bothered helping in a food bank or even spoken to those who visit food banks.

    Angela Richardson has a habit of commenting on things such as foodbanks, without checking her facts. She has shown loyalty to the government in an attempt to keep in the good books of Boris Johnson rather than those who voted for her.

    Sadly I did vote for her and I regret every moment.

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