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Ian Byrne: Liverpool MP visits Rotherhithe Festival to boost football food bank links

A Liverpool MP visited the Rotherhithe Festival last Saturday to hand out free healthy food and promote links between the football food bank he supports and Millwall’s efforts to help struggling people in Bermondsey.

Ian Byrne, the Labour MP for Liverpool West Derby, supports the Right To Food campaign, which is run by fans of rivals Liverpool and Everton. The campaign was running a ‘market stall’ next to the festival’s main stage, where people could come up and take free fruit and vegetables.

Byrne told the News on Saturday: “We were asked to come to the festival to speak about it, but we thought we’d come up with the kit, we’d show how we do it in Liverpool. We’ve got five market stalls in Liverpool that we use to feed people that need it, and also destigmatise it. You wouldn’t think that you were in a food bank.

“Just before lockdown, football fans were donating 30 per cent of all food that was going to food banks in Liverpool. It was hard to maintain in lockdown, it was a case of collecting money online mostly.”

Byrne said the group had been working with various London-based groups and others throughout the country. The campaign pushed for “universal free school meals; community kitchens; reasonable portions in benefits and wages; ensured food security and independent enforcement” to be included in the UK’s National Food Strategy report published earlier this summer.

“We wanted to show solidarity, which is why we’ve come down from Liverpool,” Byrne said. “We have lots of links with people who are fighting food poverty in London and that’s what we want, because if you want to change legislation, you need people from every community coming together.”


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