Colleen Simon in the food pantry

Hard work is not a virtue, I argued a few weeks ago in disagreement with recent statements by politicians.

There is a very different error – almost the opposite error – which has a longer pedigree and also needs challenging. I was reminded of it by a rather extraordinary story, and I’m grateful to Mike Dark for drawing it to my attention. In Missouri, USA, a Roman Catholic woman was sacked from a job in which she was in charge of feeding the homeless. The reason for the sacking was that she was in a same-sex marriage.

Food bank bar chart

The rapid rise in the number of people depending on food banks is the most significant social development in the UK over the last few years.

Hope+ Food Bank in Liverpool has published statistics showing why people are driven there to beg for food. Up to 200 people a week depend on it, sometimes more. The three main causes of hardship are ‘benefit delay’, ‘benefit change’ and ‘benefit sanctions’, in that order. This explains the recent rise in dependency: all three of these are recent Government innovations.

Adam Smallbone with inner city church in background

This is about the sense of having a distinctive role. It is inspired by the television series Rev, with its vicar Adam Smallbone. I rarely watch television, but to me Rev was special. At last the BBC has produced a series about the clergy that tells it the way it is.

Some considered it unrealistic. From my retirement, on the other hand, watching it brought back lively memories. With my background in inner-city ministry and anglo-catholicism I was reminded time and again of things that happened to Marguerite and I, things that you may consider incredible if you have never lived in an inner city vicarage.