Gathering on the Margins – 26 May

During this pandemic, communities have come together to support each other. In this week’s gathering we discussed at coordinated responses to the crisis and mutual aid.

We have these gatherings every Tuesday at 2 pm. Join us on Zoom to connect with people across the country to hear each other’s stories, discuss issues that we are facing and share advice.

Join us on Zoom by clicking the link below, or call 0131 460 1196 and using the meeting ID: 193 697 232

Sam Dyer from Cambridge Sustainable Food told us about the formation of community food hubs in Cambridge. There had already been a food poverty alliance in Cambridge for two years, working with frontline organisations such as foodbanks, housing providers, churches and the city council, so there were already relationships and networks in place at the start of the crisis. However, a lot of the kinds of provision that were already happening, such as community lunches, fell away because of social distancing, so people had to come up with new ways of meeting pre-existing need as well as coping with new demand.

The city council have been very supportive in Cambridge of the mutual aid groups that have sprung up. The alliance has been working with these mutual aid groups to establish community food hubs. Sam says that the challenge going into the future is how to move on from the emergency food provision model into something that is run by the community.

We also heard from Jayne Gosnall who spoke about the importance of mutual aid and supporting one another in the recovery from addiction, as well as getting through this crisis. Jayne is involved in several WhatsApp groups that help keep people connected through sharing things like crafting ideas and creative writing.

She also talked about Self-Reliant Groups and how they are supporting each other, even when they can’t meet in person, and how some people are even becoming more connected than before by coming together online. Jayne said that these groups and connections may seem on the surface to be ‘quite a soft thing’ but are actually having a profound impact. You can find out more about Self-Reliant Groups here.

Next week we will be looking at how the crisis has impacted the lives of children and young people and will be joined by Rys Farthing (Researcher), Tia Clarke (Food Ambassador), Faith Marriott (Nightsafe) and Zoe McIntyre (Food Foundation). Join us on Tuesday at 2 pm.

Over the following few weeks, the gatherings will be focusing on:

  • 2 June:  Children and young people
  •  9 June: Global solidarity

Love and unity in a UK food desert

Sheffield Poverty Update August 2020

Vacancy: Your Local Pantry Scottish Development Worker

Vacancy: Challenge Poverty Week Intern

A Fair and Just Future for Cornwall

How one estate pulled together and how covid could change it forever

Sign reading Look After Each Other

Look after each other

sunflower

Are you a sun worshipper of follower?

We’re all going on a summer holiday

You Can’t Eat the View

A report from End Hunger Cornwall

Report from a conference held in October 2019, highlighting the impact of food poverty and food insecurity throughout Cornwall. 

SPARK newsletter summer 2020 – online edition

Food Power Toolkit

SPARK newsletter winter 2020

Gathering on the Margins, 19 May: Building back better?

At this week's Gathering on the Margins, we discussed our visions of how we can build a better world after the pandemic.

We have these gatherings every Tuesday at 2 pm. Join us on Zoom to connect with people across the country to hear each other’s stories, discuss issues that we are facing and share advice.

Join us on Zoom by clicking the link below, or call 0131 460 1196 and using the meeting ID: 193 697 232

Many different organisations are thinking about how we can do things differently after the pandemic, and hold onto the values of solidarity and compassion that have sustained us through lockdown. We invited some of them to share thier thoughts and spark discussion.

First, Barry Knight spoke about the idea of ‘building back better’:

Barry Knight is involved in ‘Rethinking Poverty’, a project of the Webb Memorial Trust. He challenged us especiallly to think about locally-led, community-based ways of building a better world, rooted in ‘power with’ rather than ‘power over’ other people. He explores all these ideas in more detail in this article.

We also had an input from Paul Wood, the Head of Advocacy at Tearfund, about their ‘World Rebooted’  initiative:

Tearfund see three big shifts happening during the crisis: 

  1. From ‘I alone’ to ‘We together’
  2. From valuing productivity above all else to valuing life
  3. From small tweaks to a new way of being

Read more about ‘The World Rebooted’ here.

Finally, Emma Temple of the Student Christian Movement shared her reflections on the ‘new normal’:

The speakers sparked a very creative discussion. We shared stories of what has given us all hope during lockdown, and talked about what needs to change.

Many participants felt that we had only scratched the surface of this vital topic, so we may well return to it in future Gatherings. Church Action on Poverty is publishing a series of blogs exploring the ideas – ‘New wine, new wineskins’ – and we would welcome your comments and input.

Modified version of a cartoon by Chris Riddell (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/picture/2020/mar/28/coronavirus-everything-must-change-cartoon)

Next week we will be looking at coordinated responses, mutual aid and resilience. Join us on Tuesday to share your thoughts, ideas and experiences.

Over the following few weeks, the gatherings will be focussing on:

  • 26 May: Coordinated responses and resilience
  • 2 June:  Children and young people
  • 9 June: Global solidarity

Gathering on the Margins – 16 June

Gathering on the Margins – 9 June

Church Action on Poverty in Sheffield Update, June 2020

Viral Song

New wine, new wineskins: theological reflection on ‘building back better’

Gathering on the Margins – 2 June

Reflecting together, 28 May: Whom are we serving in our services?

You can’t eat the view

Reflecting together, 21 May: inhabiting the public realm in the midst of lockdown

Book review: Bread of Life in Broken Britain

Staying connected: 3 stories from Sheffield

Gathering on the Margins – 26 May

You Can’t Eat the View

How a few photos from 2008 still undermine attempts to tackle UK poverty

Sign reading Look After Each Other

Look after each other

sunflower

Are you a sun worshipper of follower?

We’re all going on a summer holiday

Reflecting together, 14 May: Power and powerlessness

A report from our 14 May online discussions on what it means to be church on the margins during the pandemic.

(Video reflection by Alison Webster, Diocese of Oxford)

What can we learn from faith communities in terms of how they have fared in the current context?

  • Examples of churches in Edinburgh and Birmingham – people have been looking after each other, checking in and delivering food.
  • Churches should offer specific help, people feel awkward asking for help.
  • Church of England issued guidance about not going out/ not delivering food/distributing leaflets, etc. … Is the church insular in this situation?
  • Some older people wanted to go out and ignore the message to stay at home, but when they realised that it was to protect the NHS as well as themselves they were happier to comply.
  • Being embedded in the community (pre-crisis) makes it easier to connect/ reach out to people in need.
  • Influence can be more important than power.
  • Can the older and younger generations learn from each other? (e.g. technology skills, insight, etc. )
  • What does ‘service’ look like? Who are you serving with online or offline church?
  • Connections between people are more important than the number of people attending church.

What have we as individuals learned from the power we have/lack?

  • We should turn the Thursday clap into ‘power’ to campaign for a Living Wage for NHS/care workers/key workers.
  • How you use your power is important.
  • Clergy/ministers who hold food bank vouchers have power over people’s fortunes.
  • People with disabilities have been doing church online for years because mainstream church was not accessible/welcoming. The message that online is less / ‘will do for now’ is hurtful to people who have done church this way for years.
  • Now we don’t all have the power to fix things due to social isolation.
  • There is a divide between people who want to get back to the church building as soon as possible and those who don’t.
  • Some people have to go back to work due to their financial situation – powerlessness in this context. It’s a privilege to have the choice to stay at home.
  • We do have power that we may not recognise (as a Christian community). By working together we can be powerful.
  • Whose voices do we listen to? We need to listen to the ‘powerless’.
  • ‘People are hungry and we are talking about bricks [buildings].’

A poem by Ruth Wells

God snuck home.
No longer bound by the
expectations of a ‘consecrated’ building
She’s concentrated her efforts on breaking out.
Now in the comfort of a well worn dining table
she shares some bread,
with some friends.
And she laughs.
And she weeps.
In the sacred space of home.

Research and Information Officer

SPARK newsletter, autumn 2020

Sign reading Look After Each Other

Look after each other

sunflower

Are you a sun worshipper of follower?

We’re all going on a summer holiday

Gathering on the Margins – 12 May

This week in Gathering on the Margins, we heard from a number of creative people who told us about how they are using art and creativity to respond to COVID-19.

We have these gatherings every Tuesday at 2 pm. Join us on Zoom to connect with people across the country to hear each other’s stories, discuss issues that we are facing and share advice.

Join us on Zoom by clicking the link below, or call 0131 460 1196 and using the meeting ID: 193 697 232

Digital Poet in Residence, Matt Sowerby, spoke about the importance of creativity at this time and how, despite the cancellation of all festivals and gigs, there is actually a renaissance of creativity happening at the moment as people respond to the crisis in different ways. However, he also talked about the importance of not putting pressure on yourself to be productive in difficult circumstances.

Matt’s special interest is in art as a way of making change, and says that is through creativity that when we come out of this pandemic we will stop things just going back to the way they were before. You can find some of Matt’s creative responses to the pandemic here.

Broden is a filmmaker based in Clitheroe who has worked with Church Action on Poverty on a couple of projects, including creating the film Edgelands, based upon the stories of a group of young people growing up in poverty in Lancashire. If you haven’t seen this film it is well worth a watch, you can find it here.

Broden told us about his creative process. His work mainly centres around the stories of working-class youth, and he creates really authentic pieces by using street-cast actors and incorporating real people’s stories into his work. Broden also reflected on our need for art at this time as a source of comfort. Broden seeks to use film at time like this when so many people to capture the smaller stories and highlight the ‘underworlds that are much closer to home than people would like to think’.

Next we heard from Lisa, who works with Food Power in Plymouth and uses creative methods to help people share their stories. Lisa has a background in visual art and art history and is interested in who gets to be the artist, how the art is shared, how that’s understood and art as a collective process.

As part of her work with Food Power in Plymouth she has been part of creative workshops, from which a collection of audio and visual material has been put together, and she shared with us a couple of images from this. Lisa explains how art can help people express issues that are both personal and relevant to a larger issue. To adapt to the current situation Lisa is working with a small team in Plymouth on a creative methods toolkit that can be shared online.

Ellis, an actor/write from Liverpool, told us about various aspects of his work, which includes, writing, performing, blogging, directing, contemporary dance and spoken word. Ellis’ work explores the relationship between politics and art. He told us how he began creating work around the issue of child poverty when his school was badly affected by cuts and he wanted to speak out about this. Ellis is also a blogger; you can read his blog, Skinny, Shattered, Skint  here. Ellis and others will also be leading  online workshops about creativity in the coming weeks, you can find out more here.

Jayne spoke about the restorative power of creativity and how it helped her through addiction recovery. Now she is helping to keep people afloat by keeping them connected during isolation. She has started a local Whatsapp writing group, giving people the opportunity to express themselves creatively. She says that being able to write and paint is like having a pulse and that it makes her healthier physically mentally and spiritually.

During the gathering we were set the task of creating something, be it a picture of a poem etc., in response to the question ‘Are we all in the same boat?’ Here are a few examples of what was produced from Kathryn, Broden and Isaac:

Finally, we heard from the musician Isaac who explained how he has been using music to honestly express the loneliness of lockdown, and how writing songs can help him get into a better headspace. In response to the question, ‘Are we all in the same boat?’ Isaac said that there isn’t even a boat in the first place. You can listen to ‘It Could be Worse’, a song about Covid-19 here.

Next week we will be looking beyond the lockdown and imagining a better future post-coronavirus. We will be hearing from Barry Knight from Rethinking Poverty and others to hear how they think society can change for the better as we come out of this pandemic. Join us on Tuesday to share your thoughts and ideas about how to stop things just going back to a normal that we know wasn’t working.

Over the following few weeks, the gatherings will be focussing on:

  • 19 May: ‘Building back better’ – visions of how we can do things differently after the pandemic
  • 26 May: Coordinated responses and resilience
  • 2 June:  Children and young people

Love and unity in a UK food desert

Sheffield Poverty Update August 2020

Vacancy: Your Local Pantry Scottish Development Worker

Vacancy: Challenge Poverty Week Intern

A Fair and Just Future for Cornwall

How one estate pulled together and how covid could change it forever

Sign reading Look After Each Other

Look after each other

sunflower

Are you a sun worshipper of follower?

We’re all going on a summer holiday

Church on the Margins: resilience

A report from our 7 May online discussions on what it means to be church on the margins during the pandemic.

Resilience (opening reflection by Martin Johnstone of the Church of Scotland)

Where have we seen new life/new ways of being?

  • New ‘churches’ have formed online. If these continue after lockdown how will we think about church ‘membership’? How will it be redefined? What does this mean for institutional churches?
  • People who are not usually ‘church-goers’ have joined online church services. It has become a ‘church without walls’.
  • Churches are continuing to do traditional services as usual.
  • In broadcast mode the content of online services is quite passive.
  • Foodbanks are too busy providing a service, they don’t have time to get to know people and gather their stories.
  • We can allow our online church gatherings to be messy, they do not need to be perfect. Sometimes things go wrong but this is more authentic.
  • Online church is safe space for people to engage.
  • More people are engaging online, at different times of the week.
  • We need to be church everyday of the week, not just Sundays.

Are there new resources and ideas about the church and how they can support communities to flourish?

  • One church community is taking an inter-faith approach to the alpha course … ‘Beta Max’ is an inter-faith gathering where people come together to discuss faith.
  • Examples of church ministers visiting people living on the street, bringing them food, etc. also providing packed lunches to children who are missing out on free school meals, and printed educational packs for families who do not have internet access.
  • How can we include people who are invisible during the pandemic, people who are digitally excluded?
  • Online church is more accessible for young families. Online children’s liturgy.
  • New gifts are being uncovered in the new spaces.
  • We need to be alongside and reach out to people on the margins, not ‘saviours’ dropping in and out of people’s lives.
  • We can minister to each other, we don’t have to follow the model of priest as leader and congregation. E.g. Some people have organised family funerals themselves.
  • The model of priest/minister as leader/gatekeeper needs to change. ‘The priesthood of all believers’.
  • We should keep the good things from online church when lockdown is over.
  • Some churches do not currently have ‘permission’ to help with the crisis response locally. Individuals are doing things but not representing the church.
  • Some churches are looking after their own members but not reaching out to others in the community. Will the community notice if the church reopens?
  • Food pantries as examples of community-led organisations.
  • How do we create a safe online space for people to talk about how they are feeling?

Are there any examples of churches standing alongside those on the margins (not speaking for them)?

  • Not many visible examples of the church response, some church members are probably involved in service delivery but the ‘official church’ is less visible. … Can we offer our church buildings to others who are responding in the community?
Research and Information Officer

Love and unity in a UK food desert

Sheffield Poverty Update August 2020

Vacancy: Your Local Pantry Scottish Development Worker

Vacancy: Challenge Poverty Week Intern

A Fair and Just Future for Cornwall

How one estate pulled together and how covid could change it forever

Sign reading Look After Each Other

Look after each other

sunflower

Are you a sun worshipper of follower?

We’re all going on a summer holiday

Shopping online? You can raise money to loosen the grip of poverty

Easyfundraising lets you raise free donations for Church Action on Poverty when you shop online.

The pandemic and lockdown are sweeping millions of people further into poverty, while making it more difficult to raise the funds to help projects that anchor people and tackle poverty. We know that many people now have less money to use supporting causes. But there is a way you can still raise funds to tackle poverty.

You may now be doing more of your shopping online. So it’s the perfect time to sign up to Easyfundraising – a system which generates free donations for Church Action on Poverty when you shop online.

Easyfundraising has over 4,000 shops and sites which will donate to us at no extra cost to yourself, including lots of big-name retailers like John Lewis, Argos, Uswitch, eBay, M&S, Just Eat, Now TV, Domino’s Pizza and Audible.

All you have to do is sign up to support us using the link below. Then every time you shop online, go through the Easyfundraising website or app and we’ll receive a percentage of your spend as a free donation, at no cost to you or us.

Support is urgently needed -please take a moment to sign up and help stop more people being swept into poverty and hunger.

Communications and Supporter Relations Manager

Let’s walk upon the water

A walk in the park

Look after each other

Sign reading Look After Each Other

Look after each other

sunflower

Are you a sun worshipper of follower?

We’re all going on a summer holiday

Listen up! New podcast to help end poverty

Our new Cast To End Poverty will bring stories and insights from across the UK, from people helping to create a more just and compassionate society

We work with some wonderful people and projects, who are making a huge difference in their communities, helping to loosen poverty’s grip and challenging unjust systems.

We always want to share these stories, and are always keen to find new ways to do so. That’s why, this week, we’ve launched our new podcast: the Cast To End Poverty.

In each episode, we will hear new stories and perspectives from across the movement to end poverty. Very often, we’ll hear directly from people with personal experiences of UK poverty, learning what exacerbates poverty and what can unlock it. And we’ll frequently highlight steps you can take, to help to create a more just and compassionate society.

Our first episode is online now, and you should be able to subscribe through your regular podcast platform within the next few days.

We’ll be chatting to a wide range of people over the coming weeks and months.

In our first episode, our director Niall Cooper talks with Hannah Lambie-Mumford from the University of Sheffield, about the social and economic implications of the coronavirus outbreak. They discuss the sudden increase in people needing support with food provision and discuss potential solutions and shared ideals.

Niall and Hannah discuss some of the ideas and suggestions raised by Niall in this article.

During the coronavirus outbreak, we have all been struck by the outpouring of kindness in neighbourhoods up and down the country. None of us wants to see our neighbours being cut adrift or left without access to good food. None of us is happy with families being swept into debt or children being held back in their schoolwork because they don’t have the same access to digital resources as others. 

The need for just and compassionate systems has been brought into sharp focus but the need existed before and will exist long after the outbreak. By listening to new stories and new insights, and by listening to new voices, we can all help create a better society.

Love and unity in a UK food desert

Sheffield Poverty Update August 2020

Vacancy: Your Local Pantry Scottish Development Worker

Vacancy: Challenge Poverty Week Intern

A Fair and Just Future for Cornwall

How one estate pulled together and how covid could change it forever

Sign reading Look After Each Other

Look after each other

sunflower

Are you a sun worshipper of follower?

We’re all going on a summer holiday

Church on the Margins in the time of coronavirus

Reflections from our first online discussions on what it means to be church on the margins during the pandemic.

Opening reflection by Carmel Murphy Elliott, with an introduction by Church Action on Poverty director Niall Cooper

Personal

  • Lots of people have been extremely busy for the last few weeks in the response, now feeling very tired, but settling down, new routines forming.
  • Personal loss/bereavement
  • Feelings of powerlessness

Reaching people

  • Service-users (e.g. homeless) don’t know what’s going on, don’t have access to information.
  • Concerns for people who are isolated alone.
  • People with no tech or phones – where are the gaps/ how can we reach people? (e.g. refugees and asylum seekers, the elderly).
  • Local community networks have suffered (again difficult to reach people who are not online).
  • We need to think small, focus on helping our neighbours.
  • Difficult decisions, e.g. closing foodbanks, running out of food. Others are still providing hot meals for homeless people.
  • Marginalised people are still facing the worst of this, access to food, etc.

Reflection

  • What will the ‘other side’ look like (when this is over)?
  • Envisioning the future ‘another world is possible’. Change for society.
  • Key workers (low-paid) are now incredibly valued.

Church

  • Theology of death (and life) needs consideration/attention.
  • More people are attending/taking part in online services than usual church numbers (it’s more accessible for people with internet).
  • Challenges for clergy – funerals and managing their own mental health.
  • Avoid ‘saviour syndrome’
  • The need for theological reflection  – now and beyond this.
  • We need to continue to be creative and include people after this.
Research and Information Officer

Love and unity in a UK food desert

Sheffield Poverty Update August 2020

Vacancy: Your Local Pantry Scottish Development Worker

Vacancy: Challenge Poverty Week Intern

A Fair and Just Future for Cornwall

How one estate pulled together and how covid could change it forever

Sign reading Look After Each Other

Look after each other

sunflower

Are you a sun worshipper of follower?

We’re all going on a summer holiday

Solidarity and sacrifice

Reflections from our 9 April online discussions on what it means to be church on the margins during the pandemic.

Opening reflection by Deirdre Brower Latz

The Church needs to change after Coronavirus

  • The church needs to be called to account and radically share its resources
  • Churches need to be transformed/reimagined/ authentic – not carry on as before
  • Some churches are not involved in the crisis response / how are affluent areas responding?
  • New collaborations and alliances should be maintained

Solidarity

  • Many people are not online, some churches have been delivering resources to people to keep in touch
  • Inequalities have been exposed
  • ‘God is showing us new things from the perspective of the last and the least.’
  • Lack of understanding among decision-makers
  • Helping at the uber local level
  • Chatting to people in the foodbank queue / checking in with people
  • Increase in volunteering / kindness
  • Communities are coming together

Sacrifice

  • It’s an inconvenience for some, not a sacrifice
  • Giving up small foodbank, letting bigger one take over to make sure resources reach people
  • Being separated from people and the church building
  • Domestic violence / conflicts at home
  • Feeling / being powerless

Learning from others

  • What can we learn from people who were marginalised before? E.g. some people with autism do not like touch / prefer social distance. What can we learn from this?

Holy Week and Easter

  • Solidarity of Jesus / turning the tables
  • Foot washing / caring / nursing / healing / self-care
  • Receiving, not giving (is ok) – gratitude
  • Sadness and joy in Easter

Reaching people

  • Some people have no way of communicating at the moment, no phone or internet
  • Reaching people who are homeless ?

Voice

  • Importance of speaking to society / government about how people are being affected – people to speak out
  • Disability activism
  • Society has to change

Reimagining

  • Solidarity and sacrifice as counter- infections (fighting the virus)
Research and Information Officer

Vacancy: Your Local Pantry Scottish Development Worker

Vacancy: Challenge Poverty Week Intern

A Fair and Just Future for Cornwall

How one estate pulled together and how covid could change it forever

The Collective, Pilot – Church responses to the crisis

A place to call home

Dozens join e-choir for rendition of a Disney classic

Sign reading Look After Each Other

Look after each other

sunflower

Are you a sun worshipper of follower?

We’re all going on a summer holiday