Sunderland Minster team hold fast to highlight plight of the hungry and destitute

Taking part in National Fast Day at the Sunderland Minster are Curates Fiona Collin and Andrew Dowsett with Rev Chris Howson.

Taking part in National Fast Day at the Sunderland Minster are Curates Fiona Collin and Andrew Dowsett with Rev Chris Howson.

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RELIGIOUS campaigners have gone hungry in a bid raise awareness of families living on the breadline.

Four Sunderland Minster workers took part in the national End Hunger Fast day yesterday.

The event was calling on the Government to ensure the welfare system helps to stop hunger, that work pays enough for people to provide properly for their families, and food markets promote long-term sustainable diets.

Sunderland University chaplain, Reverend Chris Howson, said he has seen a record number of people using food banks in the past year, and in the last two weeks he has referred five students to various food banks across the city.

He said: “The Minster has had to deal with a record number of people going hungry.

“The bigger picture is this massive need for food banks.

“We want to make the point that in the UK today no one should have to rely on food parcels.

“In universities across the country, students are having to take food out.

Sunderland Minster Canon Shiela Bamber took part in the event which was spearheaded by Bishop of Durham Paul Butler.

Minster priest Andrew Dowsett also took part in the one-day fast, as well as curate Fiona Collin.

The four city church workers took it in turn to fast inside the Mongolian yurt – or prayer tent – which was constructed in the Minster last Easter.

The Trussell Trust estimates that nationally, between 2012 and 2013 foodbanks fed 346,992 people.

Of those helped, 126,889 were children.

“This is the first year that this has happened nationally,” said Rev Howson.

“The need has just grown up extraordinarily in the last year.”