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Controversial comic learns about food crisis in Canterbury ahead of Question Time debate at the Gulbenkian

Controversial comic and campaigner Russell Brand visited Canterbury Food Bank yesterday before the Question Time recording in the city - in case the issue was raised on the evening.

The topic was not discussed but organisers of the charity say he left impressed with the work of volunteers who are distributing hundreds of food parcels to the needy.

After the heated television debate, recorded at the Gulbenkian, Brand then posted a lengthy summary on his Facebook page in which he praised volunteers and the work they were doing.

Russell Brand with Canterbury Food Bank volunteers Chrissie and Poppy Barr
Russell Brand with Canterbury Food Bank volunteers Chrissie and Poppy Barr

He said: “I visited partly to learn about it, as a researcher told me there might be question on them and first hand knowledge would make me look good, and partly because, y’know, I actually care.”

He was told about the operation by director Chrissie Barr and her husband Martyn.

Brand wrote: "Chrissie explains how the Caterbury Food Bank has brought people together, not just those it feeds but those who volunteer. It seemed like a good way to worship Christ, she says.

“Martyn, who I am starting to gently fall in love with, observes that supermarkets profit from the enterprise as Food Bank campaigns encourage their customers to spend more there.

“Do you think there’s an obligation for the state to feed people, I ask, or room for a bit more Jesus kicking the money lenders out of the temple type stuff?” They smile.

“Many who use their facility are people that work full time and still fall short, others have suffered under “benefit sanctions”. “They’re very quick to cut off people’s benefits these days” says Martyn.

“People think that Canterbury is affluent, but all around us are pockets of the hidden hungry”.

“The hidden hungry - I’m gonna use that I tell him as I scarper.”

Russell Brand with Canterbury Food Bank volunteers
Russell Brand with Canterbury Food Bank volunteers

Afterwards Mr Barr said: “His people contacted the food bank and I think he wanted to be prepared in case a question came up on the night, which sadly it didn’t.

“He spent about 30 minutes at the depot and I think was taken aback at the scale of it and the fact that people are going hungry in an apparently affluent place like Canterbury.

“But he was impressed that so many people were prepared to volunteer and staggered at their generosity.”

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