Oldham Foodbank honoured by Parliamentary poverty group

Volunteers at Oldham Foodbank are celebrating after being awarded a Paul Goggins Memorial Prize runners-up certificate by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Poverty (APPG Poverty) having been nominated for the national award by me.

The memorial prize for best civil society organisation to tackle poverty, donated by the Webb Memorial Trust, is in honour of the late MP for Wythenshawe and Sale East, Paul Goggins, who passed away earlier this year. Paul was Secretary to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Poverty and a long standing anti-poverty campaigner.

Oldham Foodbank manager, Andrew Barr, and founder, Fr David Hawthorn, were presented with their certificate by the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Poverty, Kate Green MP in the Speaker’s Rooms in the House of Commons.

The Speaker of the House of Commons, The Rt. Hon. John Bercow MP, was also at the ceremony and chatted to the Oldham volunteers about their work and the anti-poverty work of Paul Goggins MP.

Speaking after the event, Andrew Barr, said:

It was a fantastic honour to have the work of Oldham Foodbank recognised and to be a runner up for this national prize especially as there were so many organisations nominated from across the country.

We have always appreciated the hands-on support of our MP, Debbie Abrahams, and everyone at the Foodbank wants to thank her for nominating us.

Fr Hawthorn, added:

To be among so many other active community groups reinforces the impact that the foodbank itself is having on the Borough of Oldham.

I must thank all our hardworking volunteers who get the job done and who give their time so freely so the people who need our provision don’t go hungry. Well done to everyone!

I am so proud that our Oldham Foodbank volunteers have been recognized by the APPG on Poverty.

I know that all the volunteers look forward to the day when the foodbank will no longer be required but, as they say themselves, they can’t see that day coming anytime soon.

Without the incredible hard work, dedication, community spirit and love that the volunteers at the foodbank give so freely our town would be a poorer place and this is why I nominated them for the Paul Goggins Memorial Prize.

The ceremony was a fitting tribute to Paul who dedicated much of his life and his time as an MP to supporting the anti-poverty agenda.

We know that 65% of people using Oldham Foodbank are there because they’ve had their social security stopped after being ‘sanctioned’.

There is a great deal more anecdotal evidence coming in from foodbanks, charities and religious groups that many of the people who are sanctioned are being treated unfairly and that the vulnerable are suffering terribly. Only yesterday we heard the findings from an all-party investigation about the effects of hunger and the rise in use of foodbanks.

It’s for this reason that I’ve persuaded the department of work and pensions (DWP) select committee to hold an inquiry into the appropriateness of the government’s sanctioning regime in the new year.

The evidence is there that the government is deliberately, and unfairly, forcing hundreds of thousands of people off social security each year by sanctioning them in an effort to make the unemployment statistics look better than they really are. This select committee inquiry will leave government Ministers, who have repeatedly refused to have an inquiry, no place to hide once the evidence starts to be analysed.

Anyone wishing to make a donation to the foodbank can do so at 24 Clegg Street or call 0161 622 1061 to find out details of collection points.

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