Quaker Social Action’s funeral advice service, Down to Earth, has helped its 4,000th client amidst significant funeral industry developments, says QSA’s Peter Christmas.

Recently Quaker Social Action’s (QSA’s) Down to Earth service, which provides free one-to-one advice and support for people struggling with funeral costs when planning a loved one’s funeral, passed a milestone of 4,000 clients helped.  What started in 2010 as a local volunteer-based project has grown into a highly specialised staff-led service with national reach, helping people across the UK to plan an affordable and meaningful funeral. 

Many clients contact the Down to Earth team feeling overwhelmed when trying to deal with funeral costs.  We help people to understand their options, prioritise what’s most important to them, save money against initial quotations, and raise money (where eligible) from state benefits and charitable/benevolent funds.

“The undertaker wanted a payment in advance, but I didn’t have enough.  The hospital was telling me to hurry up because I couldn’t leave my husband in the mortuary.  I felt like I was going mad.”

Down to Earth client

The context is that since 2004, average funeral prices have risen 122%, and the average cost now sits at £4,271 (SunLife, 2018).  According to SunLife’s research, one in eight families face notable financial problems when trying to find the money for a funeral.  The Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) has found as part of its ongoing investigation into the funeral industry that prices have risen at twice the inflation rate over the last 14 years, and that “the scale of these price rises does not currently appear to be justified by cost increases or quality improvements”.

Remember that many people are unable to plan for the price of a funeral (their own, or a loved one’s) well in advance of death:  many people die unexpectedly, at a young age, and/or in traumatic circumstances.  Whilst the government has promised to introduce a Children’s Funeral Fund for England (in line with Wales) so that parents grieving the loss of a child under the age of 18 will no longer have to meet cremation or burial fees, the above statistics indicate a much wider problem with the affordability of funerals.

This is why QSA is continuing its work to tackle funeral poverty on a strategic level, alongside helping individuals and families through the Down to Earth service.  The CMA’s in-depth investigation, the funeral industry’s own emerging initiative to improve standards for customers, government proposals to regulate pre-paid funeral plans through the Financial Conduct Authority, and Scotland’s moves towards regulating the funeral industry north of the border, all provide momentum and opportunities to effect change.  For example please see our recent submissions to the CMA and to the Work and Pensions Committee’s enquiry into support for the bereaved.

Over the next three years, building on our successful Fair Funerals campaign (2014-18) and working with other member organisations of the Funeral Poverty Alliance (including Church Action on Poverty), Down to Earth is seeking to influence the industry and government to help bring about:

  • Greater funeral price transparency and lower average prices
  • Improved funeral-related state benefits, and regulation of the funeral industry
  • Improved access to affordable municipal schemes and (where needed) public health funerals.

QSA would be delighted to add more organisations to the 50-strong Funeral Poverty Alliance – please see here for how to join.

Church Action on Poverty in Sheffield 11th annual Pilgrimage, 12 October 2019

Vacancy: Programme Manager

Strengthening the local safety net

Transforming structural injustice

Dear Mr Johnson: Here’s how we can end poverty and hunger

Workshop registration open: Transforming injustice in UK austerity & poverty

Press release: Wales gets its first Your Local Pantry, to help tackle food poverty in Cardiff

Tackling funeral poverty

Your Local Pantry opens in Preston

Church Action on Poverty in Sheffield 11th annual Pilgrimage, 12 October 2019

Vacancy: Programme Manager

Strengthening the local safety net

Our Your Local Pantry officer Shabir has been at the Intact Centre in Preston today, for the launch of a fantastic new initiative, helping ensure everyone has consistent access to good food. Here’s a quick video message from him and Denise.

If your community might benefit from a project like this, click here to find out more.

Church Action on Poverty in Sheffield 11th annual Pilgrimage, 12 October 2019

Vacancy: Programme Manager

Strengthening the local safety net

Transforming structural injustice

Church Action on Poverty in Sheffield 11th annual Pilgrimage, 12 October 2019

Vacancy: Programme Manager

Strengthening the local safety net

People in Preston will be able to save on their weekly shopping bills, thanks to a new project that opens this week.

The Intact Centre in Whitby Avenue, Ingol, has converted its food project into a community pantry, to be run and used by local people. It will be called Whitby’s Pantry and will be officially launched at an event on Wednesday 19 June.

The project is the latest in the growing Your Local Pantry network.

Pantries are membership-based food clubs that enable people to access food at a small fraction of its usual supermarket price. The Intact Centre’s weekly fee is £3.50 for which members will be able to access approximately £25.00 worth of food, improving household food security and freeing up more money for other essential household costs such as rent and utilities.

So far, 25 members have signed up, and the charity’s chief executive, Denise Hartley MBE, expects that to rise over the coming months.

She said: “Intact has been operating a ‘Community Supermarket’, a local food club, where Fare Share food is bagged up by staff and volunteers. This club has proven to be very popular and over the last two years around 200 members have accessed the food project 1,821 times. We have about 25 regulars that attend each week and we are hoping to be able to increase this to around 40 to 50”

Pantries are sustainable, long-term, community-led solutions that can loosen the grip of food poverty in a particular neighbourhood. They can be part of a progressive journey to help people move beyond foodbank use, or can help reduce a family’s need for a foodbank.

Intact’s ‘Community Supermarket’ has provided a valuable service for the past two years, but the pantry approach gives members more choice over the food they get, and more control, strengthening the community’s ability to prevent food poverty or to progress out of food crisis.

Pantries source their food from a variety of sources, such as supermarket surplus via food recycling charity Fareshare, and by developing relationships with local food businesses who offer surplus food, which helps to reduce food waste and puts savings in the hands of people who are struggling to cover their weekly outgoings. This is potentially a virtuous circle.

Stockport Homes and the charity Church Action on Poverty are supporting the roll-out of pantries across the UK, under the banner of Your Local Pantry, after initial projects in Stockport were shown to have brought social, financial and health benefits including reducing isolation, averting food poverty and improving local people’s mental health. An impact report last year found pantry members had saved £650 a year on average on their shopping bills, and that every £1 invested in pantries generated £6 in social value.

Niall Cooper, director of Church Action on Poverty, said: “Pantries are a great way for local people to come together, strengthen their community and loosen the grip of high prices. Rising living costs and stagnating incomes have made life increasingly difficult for many people, but pantries provide immediate, visible support that can protect people from being swept into poverty.”

Anybody interested in setting up a Your Local Pantry in their community is invited to email gillian@church-poverty.org.uk

Church Action on Poverty in Sheffield 11th annual Pilgrimage, 12 October 2019

Vacancy: Programme Manager

Strengthening the local safety net

Transforming structural injustice

Dear Mr Johnson: Here’s how we can end poverty and hunger

Workshop registration open: Transforming injustice in UK austerity & poverty

Press release: Wales gets its first Your Local Pantry, to help tackle food poverty in Cardiff

Tackling funeral poverty

Church Action on Poverty in Sheffield 11th annual Pilgrimage, 12 October 2019

Vacancy: Programme Manager

Strengthening the local safety net

Sarah McLoughlin of Nesta explains why they are funding and supporting Church Action on Poverty's Self-Reliant Groups (SRG) programme.

Poverty destroys lives and communities and we have to find a way to eradicate it for good. The SRG movement is one of the most exciting, asset-based programmes that has emerged in the community development sector in the past few years and has the potential to radically improve the lives of many more people and move them from a life of poverty to a life full of possibilities.

The state of poverty in the UK

Over the past decade, the ongoing effects of the financial crisis, radical cuts to public services, benefits reform and the rise in low-paid and unstable work, have left many people unable to cope. There have been multiple reports recently demonstrating a dramatic increase in poverty, including recent statistics from the DWP which highlight the particular impact of stagnating household incomes. Projections by the Institute for Fiscal Studies suggest that 5.2 million children will be living in poverty by 2020-21. To be really clear on that last statistic, that’s potentially 37% of all children living in one of the wealthiest countries in modern times, that could be going hungry, living in unsafe and unstable homes, and without adequate clothing. Are we going to let this happen?

What is poverty?

Poverty is generally understood to describe someone who is unable to meet their day-to-day needs. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), who lead on a lot of the work in the UK to reduce poverty, describe poverty as “when a person’s resources are well below their minimum needs, including the need to take part in society.” In 2008, JRF published the Minimum Income Standard (MIS) – the benchmark of minimum needs based on what goods and services members of the public think are required for an adequate standard of living. This includes three levels of poverty, all demonstrating the every increasing impacts of poverty on those affected. Where income falls below the MIS, getting by is possible but under pressure and families find it difficult to manage unexpected costs and events. As income lowers, families fall substantially short of a decent standard of living which can lead to destitution, where families can’t afford to eat, keep clean or stay dry and warm.

The causes of poverty are complex and multi-layered, often involving systems and services which are slow to change. While there is a rising voice within communities and public services to change those systems and redesign the welfare state, with much of the public sector in a state of crisis and the government and political landscape mired by ongoing challenges, it’s doubtful that any systematic improvements will have an immediate, direct effect on those individuals facing the stresses of living in poverty on a day to day basis.

Unsurprisingly, frustrations over the lack of control many people feel they have over their own circumstances can lead to feelings of despondency for those facing the impacts of poverty. However, through my own work and commitment to this field, I have come across many examples of solutions out there that put people in the driving seat of improving their own lives and taking back some of the control that has been taken away by a patriarchal system focused on doing to, not doing with.

A potential solution

One exciting approach that provides the potential for people to help themselves out of poverty is a Self-Reliant Group (SRG).

SRGs are small groups of people (4 to 10) who come from a shared economic and/or social background to support each other and develop friendships. They meet regularly and agree to start saving, rotating leadership and responsibility, learning together and sharing skills. Many of them start a small business which, in time, will help them earn an income to support themselves and their families.

The regular meeting of the group develops a sense of purpose and ownership among members from the onset. Members can rely on each other and are encouraged to offer peer support and development opportunities, further enhancing a shared responsibility and accountability within the group. Through the SRG way of working, group members believe that helping themselves, each other and together creating opportunities for change and enterprise in their local communities, is the best way forward.

The SRG model is well tested – having foundations in the Self Help Group (SHG) movement in India which was founded in the 1970s, and is now a national movement where it is transforming rural and urban communities with thousands of active groups. The Times of India recently highlighted that

“The Social capital of SHGs could be an asset for solving various social issues in India e.g. gender based discrimination, dowry system, casteism etc.”

The SRG movement in the UK was sparked by a Church of Scotland initiative called Passage from India (now WEvolution) in 2011 when 13 women from across the UK visited established SHGs in India. The SHG model was then adapted to the UK, becoming SRGs. Over the last 5 years there has been some exciting growth of the SRG model throughout Scotland, and with partners in England, Wales and elsewhere (helped in part by funding from Nesta and DCMS). There are now 90 emerging and operational SRGs UK wide. The success of this growing movement has led to an interest in the way SRGs can be supported to address a range of social and economic issues.

Among the established SRGs there are some inspiring examples of people improving the economic circumstances of themselves and their communities such as:

  • Trishy Gannon has started No. 26 – a high-end crafts and arts store on a high street in Gourock, Scotland.
  • Karen Stevens has started her own Miss Fix It handywoman business.
  • One of the SRGs in Wales recently worked in partnership with Cardiff Metropolitan University to produce 40 groundbreaking products designed for people living with dementia. The products were sent for extended trials prior to full manufacturing and the SRG members worked with the design team from the university and used their recently learnt sewing skills. This could be the start of small-scale, locally-based manufacturing through the Welsh groups – a completely innovative approach with SRGs at the forefront.

In addition to these examples, WEvolution have also established their own group of SRG members who are challenging the benefits system head-on, called the Stand Proud Forum. The Stand Proud Form – a collective of SRG members – have started putting their agenda of change and action together. Part of this will include mobilising similar collectives across other regions and partnerships, launching a campaign and interacting with policymakers around a ‘tiny but powerful change’ around SRGs and self-employment.

The main SRG partners in the UK are:

  • WEvolution, a Scottish charity based in Glasgow who have pioneered the SRG approach in the UK and promote a way of working alongside communities that is based on trust, self-governance and collective endeavour towards entrepreneurship
  • Purple Shoots, a microfinance charity who have set up a series of SRGs in Wales and the South West of England
  • Church Action on Poverty, a charity dedicated to tackling the root causes of poverty who are currently expanding their work to create new SRGs in the Greater Manchester area.
  • Trust Leeds, a micro-finance enterprise based in Leeds which works – and walks – alongside people helping them to change their lives by building financial independence, confidence and self-reliance
  • Tannahill Community Centre, Scotland,  working in Ferguslie Park community – designated as the most deprived community in Scotland.
  • Bethany Christian Trust, based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

On the potential benefits of the SRGs, Niall Cooper, Director at Church Action on Poverty said:

“I would emphasise at least as strongly the fact that SRGs improve people’s social circumstances as well as economic ones. In sustainable livelihood terms, SRGs boost peoples own personal assets of self-confidence, capacity and agency, and significantly increase social assets/capital through the common bond of the SRG and the sense of being part of a wider movement. In anti-poverty terms, this can be hugely empowering and transformative.”


This article originally appeared on Nesta’s blog.

Church Action on Poverty’s work on Self-Reliant Groups is supported by a grant from Nesta.

Church Action on Poverty in Sheffield 11th annual Pilgrimage, 12 October 2019

Vacancy: Programme Manager

Strengthening the local safety net

Transforming structural injustice

Dear Mr Johnson: Here’s how we can end poverty and hunger

Workshop registration open: Transforming injustice in UK austerity & poverty

Press release: Wales gets its first Your Local Pantry, to help tackle food poverty in Cardiff

Tackling funeral poverty

Your Local Pantry opens in Preston

Press release: Community Pantry opens in Preston to help tackle food poverty

We are stronger together

Lifelines in a crisis: what can cities do?

Sweet charity

Church on the fringe?

A faith that does justice

Finding a focus: churches tackling poverty together

Spread the word

Dangerous Stories -‘a complex course for complex times and a complex faith’

For richer, for poorer

Could you be a community storyteller?

Run to unlock poverty!

Church Action on Poverty in the North East: offering hope to communities?

The data: What’s happened to crisis support where you live?

Sweet Charity?

Church Action on Poverty in Sheffield 11th annual Pilgrimage, 12 October 2019

Vacancy: Programme Manager

Strengthening the local safety net

Would you have somewhere to turn in an unexpected crisis? Would you know where to find a lifeline, if you suddenly faced losing your home, or had no money for food or vital bills?

Crisis support: one city's story

None of us knows when emergency might strike. That’s why reactive crisis support has long been part of UK society, ensuring people can keep their heads above water rather than being swept into deeper poverty. It’s one of the essential elements of any compassionate society.

In 2017-18, a quarter of a million people in England sought help from their local council, but our research last autumn found that more than 25 councils in England have closed their crisis funds. Nationally, the money available has diminished by almost three quarters in five years. Church Action on Poverty and others are deeply concerned that people are being cut adrift instead of kept afloat.

How does the system work in practice? How crucial are local welfare funds? With less money, how can councils maximise impact?

A new report from York gives some answers. The city council runs the York Financial Assistance Scheme (YFAS). Funding has fallen by 55% in the past five years (a lower cut than most), but the approval rate fell sharply last year too, to only 36%.

The city council conducted research into the scheme 2018, and the full report is now available here: York Financial Assistance Scheme

Firstly, here are some comments from people who had cause to apply to the fund:

“It saved me. Without it I would have been in dire straits.”

“I don’t know how I would have managed to get a cooker without this help. When I moved I had to claim Universal Credit and my money was changed and my rent got into arrears due to the change, which meant it was difficult to manage my money.”

“We are struggling again now with paying rent & council tax. We have made a new application for Council Tax support. I am prioritising paying these when I get my UC, but have had to cancel direct debits. Having difficulty managing financially.”

“Should give cash or vouchers for a particular store. Also I am really struggling to get my daughter school uniform for starting secondary I am starving having to go without food to get it; it would be good if you helped with that.”

“48 hours later and still no decision made. I have gone 13 hours with no gas and electric, I have no food in and I’m currently sat in the dark wrapped up.”

“If I hadn’t had this help I don’t know what I would have done. I don’t know how me and my children would have managed.”

Here are some of the most interesting findings and observations from the council’s research:

  • In 2017-18, there were 1,092 applications from 857 different people. Most applicants are single people.
  • Most people who took part in the council survey were positive about the fund’s impact, but most people needed help with the application and knowledge of the fund is limited, including among organisations who could recommend people.
  • The council is missing an opportunity to keep in touch with applicants, to ensure ongoing support is in place, and to make suitable referrals to other organisations.
  • Making people attend the council’s offices to top up fuel cards was an avoidable inconvenience, and the council is now looking into ways of awarding fuel top-ups or supermarket vouchers via mobile phone.
  • “It is well documented that the changing landscape has resulted in many struggling to manage to meet their living costs. Feedback from residents and those working with local communities highlights the continuing needs of residents.”
  • Universal Credit problems led to 170 applications in 2017-18 but these were refused. The report says: “There are a large number of people applying, whose applications do not meet the criteria for a YFAS award who are in financial difficulty and struggling to meet every day basic needs, especially those affected by welfare reforms, such as Universal Credit.” Indeed, most applicants miss out, and the council is concerned about two of its reasons for refusing applications:
    • 15% were refused because people couldn’t provide the supporting evidence of further information, but the council says there are possible barriers. It says: “For people that are vulnerable, in crisis and/or financial hardship getting to West Offices (the council HQ) could be prohibitive, and as we know many people do not have skills to screen shot/email information or do not have access to the internet.”
    • The fund doesn’t support people who can access other funds, such as Universal Credit hardship payments – and the council’s definition of an emergency leads to many rejections. The report says: “Many YFAS applications are made where residents are receiving various benefits and tax credits. Frequently people are finding that they are struggling to meet their everyday needs as they find their income doesn’t meet their out goings. Living long-term on a low income means people are only just managing on a day to day basis to cover essentials, leaving nothing left over to put aside, to the extent any large expenditure, such as a new school term, a family occasion or the breakdown of a household appliance can have severe consequences. These events are not unforeseen emergencies or extraordinary events. Similarly, making an application for UC is not an extraordinary event. Whilst we know that the waiting time for a first UC payment is several weeks, claimants can now more easily apply for an advance payment of UC. Therefore, if claimants are receiving their entitlement to UC there is no exceptional circumstances purely as a result of claiming UC. YFAS cannot mitigate the whole impact of national welfare policy, but this raises the question how we can best use our limited resource to support residents with low incomes and support those in financial difficulty as a result.”

We say:

Local Welfare is a very small proportion of the public budget but a vital resource any of us could need without warning.

We recommend:

  • Government should make it a statutory duty for top-tier councils in England to run a local welfare assistance scheme that can provide cash grants, loans and in-kind support for people, as appropriate, in times of need.
  • Ring-fenced funding should be provided for such schemes
  • The UK Government should work with the Local Government Association, local councils and the devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to identify and replicate best practice across the UK.

City of York Council’s comments on Universal Credit also illustrate the need for reform. We and other organisations are calling for the five-week wait for first payments to be reduced. For more information, visit endhungeruk.org

What has happened to crisis support where you live?

See the data for every council area in England here. (The systems are different in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, so data for those nations is not available unfortunately).

Church Action on Poverty in Sheffield 11th annual Pilgrimage, 12 October 2019

Vacancy: Programme Manager

Strengthening the local safety net

Transforming structural injustice

Dear Mr Johnson: Here’s how we can end poverty and hunger

Workshop registration open: Transforming injustice in UK austerity & poverty

Press release: Wales gets its first Your Local Pantry, to help tackle food poverty in Cardiff

Tackling funeral poverty

Your Local Pantry opens in Preston

Press release: Community Pantry opens in Preston to help tackle food poverty

We are stronger together

Lifelines in a crisis: what can cities do?

Sweet charity

Church on the fringe?

A faith that does justice

Finding a focus: churches tackling poverty together

Spread the word

Dangerous Stories -‘a complex course for complex times and a complex faith’

For richer, for poorer

Could you be a community storyteller?

Run to unlock poverty!

Church Action on Poverty in the North East: offering hope to communities?

Church Action on Poverty in Sheffield 11th annual Pilgrimage, 12 October 2019

Vacancy: Programme Manager

Strengthening the local safety net

Read or watch the 2019 David Goodbourn Lecture, delivered at the Centre for Theology and Justice by Revd Professor Michael Taylor in April 2019.

Michael spoke on the theme ‘Sweet Charity’, discussing charity in relation to justice and, when it comes to Christian charities including churches, the primary importance of what might be called the ‘kingdom frontier’ where Christians engage with others in fashioning a new social order. He highlights a very real disconnect between theology and justice, faith and action.

He had some encouraging things to say about Church Action on Poverty’s vision and work:
Church Action on Poverty takes a far more welcome approach in relation to how it handles its faith, how it works with people and how it looks for more radical change signalled by its determination to end hunger in this country and loosen the grip of poverty. Supposing you do so however, by fixing the benefit system or so-called `Universal Credit`, Church Action on Poverty will be well aware that you still leave questions about adequate economic and social reform hanging in the air.
You can watch the lecture below, or click here to download the text.

Church Action on Poverty in Sheffield 11th annual Pilgrimage, 12 October 2019

Vacancy: Programme Manager

Strengthening the local safety net

Transforming structural injustice

Dear Mr Johnson: Here’s how we can end poverty and hunger

Workshop registration open: Transforming injustice in UK austerity & poverty

Church Action on Poverty in Sheffield 11th annual Pilgrimage, 12 October 2019

Vacancy: Programme Manager

Strengthening the local safety net

Hannah Brock is facilitating and supporting a new 'community of praxis' in Sheffield for Church Action on Poverty. She shares some thoughts from their first day of reflection in Sheffield, about what it means to be Church on the Margins.

14 people met at the wonderful Creswick Greave Methodist Church – home of the Parson Cross Initiative – on 11 May for a reflection day, and to get to know one another.

We looked at different images of Jesus that appeal to us, and did a ‘living Bible study’ – thinking ourselves into roles in the story of Jesus healing a man with leprosy – which led is to think about who is at the margins of our society today. We had time to reflect on how people marginalised by society feel in our own church communities and discussed how we could work together in future.

It was a rich day, with opportunities to hear about how the Spirit is at work in different places in our society. Something that really stayed with me was the idea of ‘church on the fringe’: ‘church on the margins’ doesn’t mean ‘lesser’ church – far from it. Like ‘fringe’ festivals, it can mean excitement, creativity and prophecy that challenges the status quo!


Church Action on Poverty in Sheffield 11th annual Pilgrimage, 12 October 2019

Vacancy: Programme Manager

Strengthening the local safety net

Transforming structural injustice

Dear Mr Johnson: Here’s how we can end poverty and hunger

Workshop registration open: Transforming injustice in UK austerity & poverty

Press release: Wales gets its first Your Local Pantry, to help tackle food poverty in Cardiff

Tackling funeral poverty

Church Action on Poverty in Sheffield 11th annual Pilgrimage, 12 October 2019

Vacancy: Programme Manager

Strengthening the local safety net

Why is it so important to put our faith into action? Hear some thoughts from our worship and theology collective.

In May, our ‘collective’ – a group of theologians and writers who help Church Action on Poverty produce materials for churches – gathered in Salford.

We spent a fruitful and inspiring 24 hours reflecting on the faith and values that drive our work, and planning some exciting new materials for our supporters to use.

We asked two members of the collective to share their thoughts on the connection between faith and justice. (The video features Marie Pattison, Director of Katherine House retreat centre in Salford, and Revd Chris Howson, chaplain of Sunderland University.)

Church Action on Poverty in Sheffield 11th annual Pilgrimage, 12 October 2019

Vacancy: Programme Manager

Strengthening the local safety net

Transforming structural injustice

Church Action on Poverty in Sheffield 11th annual Pilgrimage, 12 October 2019

Vacancy: Programme Manager

Strengthening the local safety net

A local Churches Together group in North Wales found creative ways to be part of the movement to loosen the grip of poverty. We asked Revd Kathryn Price to share some of their experiences.

Well, it was my turn to occupy the Chair of Mold Cytun (Churches Together) last year.  Just for a year.  It seemed to me that some new focus was needed that might take us out of our little boxes.

Part of my remit as a minister is responsibility for Parkfields Community Centre.  Parkfields used to be more active as an ecumenical centre for social action.  There was a Peace and Justice group and every year a series of lunches with speakers on a range of subjects.  Some of this had got lost when the Centre lost both leadership and income for a while, so I thought it was time to reboot.

I chose Church Action on Poverty because it offers a range of different approaches – worship, campaigning and real engagement with people on the edges.  So how did we do?  What did we do?

A very small group attended a meeting to think about this and came up with a rough plan for the year.  We began with a lunch at the beginning of Advent, when diners were invited to bring stocking-fillers, which would be given to both the food bank and SHARE (a local charity that helps homeless people and refugees).  It was moderately successful – the usual faces, but some new ones and half a dozen carrier bags of goodies to pass on, as well as superb soup! 

The collection at the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity united service was donated to Church Action on Poverty, with plenty of information to keep up the momentum.  My Mold church used the special Sunday material, including a couple of the online videos, and promoted our ecumenical Lent group that used Dangerous Stories, Church Action on Poverty’s take on some of the parables, as its material.  The Easter coffee morning proceeds also went to Church Action on Poverty and my year as Chair ended with Niall Cooper coming to speak to the AGM. 

It doesn’t sound much, but the people who did get involved are also involved in so much else – in their own churches and also in the community.  Some did find it helpful for us to have a particular focus when we came together.

What happens next? Well, we are hoping to get a new faith support worker at the Community Centre and part of their remit will be to engage with the issues that Church Action on Poverty focuses on and they will be encouraged to work with Church Action on Poverty, using their resources as well as their information and encouragement to make a real difference to our community.  I hope that this person will be a champion for Church Action on Poverty in Mold.  That’s what it needs, when the rest of us are pulled in so many other directions. 

Will that work?  Ask me next year!


Revd Kathryn Price is a United Reformed Church minister, working in North East Wales.

Church Action on Poverty in Sheffield 11th annual Pilgrimage, 12 October 2019

Vacancy: Programme Manager

Strengthening the local safety net

Transforming structural injustice

Dear Mr Johnson: Here’s how we can end poverty and hunger

Workshop registration open: Transforming injustice in UK austerity & poverty

Press release: Wales gets its first Your Local Pantry, to help tackle food poverty in Cardiff

Tackling funeral poverty

Your Local Pantry opens in Preston

Press release: Community Pantry opens in Preston to help tackle food poverty

Church Action on Poverty in Sheffield 11th annual Pilgrimage, 12 October 2019

Vacancy: Programme Manager

Strengthening the local safety net