New wine, new wineskins: introduction

As we live through the pandemic and lockdown, we are on a journey together. Church Action on Poverty invites you to share your thoughts on how we can 'build back better' after the pandemic.

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

This is a crucial moment in our nation’s life. Some talk of the importance of ‘building back better’.  Others, inspired by Christian tradition, might describe this as a ‘kairos’ moment.

The pandemic has cast a light on the injustices and inequalities in our society.  At the same time, the responses we’ve seen in our communities have reminded us of the values that we all share, and which should guide us on this journey.

Surveys reveal a huge desire in the population at large for permanent changes in society, with only 9% of Britons wanting life to return to ‘normal’ after the coronavirus outbreak is over.  While not wanting to diminish the pain, suffering and terrible cost of the current crisis in lives and livelihoods, this presents both a challenge and an opportunity.

We know now, more than ever, that poverty is an outrage against humanity. It robs people of dignity, freedom and hope, of power over their own lives. We continue to believe that our vision – an end to poverty in the UK – can become a reality.

As we start to think about the future, what kind of compelling shared vision might inspire a wider movement for social transformation in our communities, and wider society?

Are there new ways we can speak and act together to realise a vision of the UK transformed into a country where everyone can live a full life, free from poverty?

Over the next week, we’ll share a series of blogs exploring different aspects of this question. Please watch this space, and share your thoughts and ideas by commenting!

On 19 May, our Gathering on the Margins explored the question too. 

Communications and Supporter Relations Manager

The Collective, Pilot – Church responses to the crisis

A place to call home

Dozens join e-choir for rendition of a Disney classic

New songs for a strange land

Way Maker

Vacancy: Your Local Pantry Scottish Development Worker

Vacancy: Challenge Poverty Week Intern

A Fair and Just Future for Cornwall

Are we in the same boat? Some creative responses

Last week we called for creative responses to the question 'Are we all in the same boat?' Here are two of the responses.

Our Programme Manager Kathryn drew this cartoon. And Church Action on Poverty supporter Revd Jo Drew wrote this poem:

Are we all in the same boat?

Are we all in the same boat?
Isolated?
Marginalised?
Cut adrift?
Rudderless?
Anchorless?
Directionless?
Inner compass whirling
As the boat spins
Whirlpool whipped.
Whilst hands seek desperately to cling
To the wood that holds all together.
To the crossbar that keeps the boat afloat.
Jesus slept
When roaring waves reigned.
There is calm in the chaos
It’s edgy but it’s there.
We need to imitate the helmsman on the wood.
Who sees and reaches out to save.
We are all in the same boat.
But some are thrown in at the deep end…

Jo Drew, 11 May 2020 – a reflection during lockdown

Dozens join e-choir for rendition of a Disney classic

New songs for a strange land

Way Maker

Running a Good Society conversation

Something to wonder at and ponder on….

Gathering on the Margins – 23 June

Vacancy: Your Local Pantry Scottish Development Worker

Vacancy: Challenge Poverty Week Intern

A Fair and Just Future for Cornwall

Yellow sticker – a poem

Our Empowerment Programme Officer Ben Pearson wrote this poem as part of one of our weekly creative workshops.

Yellow sticker you label me,
Poor.
Late night,
Hungry.
I search aisles,
For the battered, bruised, left behind.
Trolleys overflowing,
They look at me.
Battered, bruised, left behind,
They label me.


During the pandemic, Matt Sowerby is Church Action on Poverty’s poet in digital residence. He is running weekly online workshops to help our partners and supporters respond creatively to the virus and lockdown.

Food Power Empowerment Programme Officer

Dozens join e-choir for rendition of a Disney classic

New songs for a strange land

Way Maker

Running a Good Society conversation

Something to wonder at and ponder on….

Gathering on the Margins – 23 June

Vacancy: Your Local Pantry Scottish Development Worker

Vacancy: Challenge Poverty Week Intern

A Fair and Just Future for Cornwall

Kindness, community and rhubarb: my memories of tough times 80 years apart

Sheena is involved with one of our SRG projects in Manchester. She's 96, and her views on the current tough times, and those that have gone before, give us some useful reminders.

In difficult times, it can be reassuring to recall the steadfast values that have served us well before.

Our staff team here at Church Action on Poverty and our partners have been busy in the past few weeks talking to the people we work with, finding out how they are getting on, trying to be community ourselves, and also seeing where systems could yet be improved, to ensure nobody is left adrift.

A recent chat with Sheena, through one of our Self-Reliant Groups, heartened us greatly and reminded us that no matter how confusing and difficult the current journey may be, kindness, community and communication can help us all. Sheena is 96, so can remember more than most, and we thought we’d share some of her thoughts on the current situation, and also her memories of the late 1930s and early 1940s, when the Second World War broke out.

“Something I always remember from the war is that people shared. I had a lot of rhubarb in my garden and I would always go with bundles to the neighbours, and we had a holly tree too, so at Christmas I would go round with holly, because we all shared what we had. Lots of people where we lived had a share in an allotment if they didn’t have a garden, and everyone grew vegetables and looked to share things. Rationing was very tight, and we shared. I think that time is comparable to this time, although at least then you knew what you were fighting. This is more an unknown quantity.”

Sheena was at school in Alloa near Stirling when the war started, but soon went to work in a bank after the male staff were called up. She later worked in a solicitor’s office and then the Post Office.

“The mail always had to get through, war or no war. It was very important. Letters were very important for people, whether you were in the war or not.”

Sheena married after the war and she and her husband, who had been in the Russian convoys, moved to Birmingham. Her husband went to work at the GEC, and Sheena worked as a hospital receptionist.

I loved working in the hospital and being able to help people, I remember I always said I would treat people exactly the way I would like to be treated.

I think that’s still true – sometimes people might just need a cup of tea or a phone call.

“I live at Limelight in Manchester now and am having to stay in my flat. My son lives not too far away and he does my shopping, and he has grandchildren as well, but it’s hard to get across to the children what’s happening. My great-grandchildren are two and four and it’s very difficult to tell children they cannot see people.

“I am glad to have lived this long and I am old now, but I would still like to survive and community is important. The telephone is so important for me. I did use a computer when I worked as a hospital receptionist but I didn’t carry it on and I couldn’t do it now. But good communication and kindness are important. Laura from the SRG is lovely to us. We’re in a good position here. People survive with support from one another, there’s no doubt about that. I think in a crisis, the best comes out in people. Just look how much money that man [Captain Tom Moore] raised in his garden – it brings out the best in people and we can pull together.”

Over the past month, we’ve seen a lot of pulling together. We know times are very strange and perhaps disconcerting at the moment, but if we pull together like we have done in the past, then we can pull through together.

Sheena’s memories of sharing surpluses, keeping open the vital lines of communication and treating others as we’d like to be treated are timeless, loving values. They’ve never been lost, but we see them very clearly now in the mutual aid and neighbourhood support groups that have sprung up all around us.

Our work at Church Action on Poverty is always centred around compassionate community, and communal campaigns. None of us should be left adrift. We all need one another, and we can all support one another. If we can do that now, and once this is all over, we’ll create lasting change.

Dozens join e-choir for rendition of a Disney classic

New songs for a strange land

Way Maker

Running a Good Society conversation

Something to wonder at and ponder on….

Gathering on the Margins – 23 June

Vacancy: Your Local Pantry Scottish Development Worker

Vacancy: Challenge Poverty Week Intern

A Fair and Just Future for Cornwall

Universal Credit – a poem

Our Empowerment Programme Officer Ben Pearson wrote this poem as part of a workshop run by Church Action on Poverty's poet in digital residence Matt Sowerby.

Universal credit,
You prepare me for work.
You motivate me,
Mend me.
You are,
Not a joke.

Universal credit,
You joke with me.
You mock me,
Break me.
You are,
Laughing at me.


During the pandemic, Matt Sowerby is Church Action on Poverty’s poet in digital residence. He is helping our partners and supporters to respond creatively to the virus and lockdown, with weekly online workshops.

Food Power Empowerment Programme Officer

Dozens join e-choir for rendition of a Disney classic

New songs for a strange land

Way Maker

Running a Good Society conversation

Something to wonder at and ponder on….

Gathering on the Margins – 23 June

Vacancy: Your Local Pantry Scottish Development Worker

Vacancy: Challenge Poverty Week Intern

A Fair and Just Future for Cornwall

Nobody saw it coming – a poem

Church Action on Poverty supporter Liz Delafield wrote this poem as part of one of our weekly poetry workshops.

Nobody saw it coming
It changed everything.
All those things that seemed important yesterday,
Ofsted, SATs, spreadsheets of
data, observations,
suddenly wasn’t.
We began to realise what was.
People,
keeping safe,
being happy,
little things like soap.

May we always remember
how it felt,
when the unimportant
important things came
crashing down.
Yet with them important
important things.

Like…
A child’s hand held in safety,
Laughter of a game played
together with friends.
A trip to the zoo,
Lining up for school dinners,
Story time and reading books (in
real life, not online),
Walking with you and helping
you grow,
Saying goodbye with hugs and
handshakes.

And when we emerge once
again,
Instead of going back to normal,
May we go ahead, remembering
what we missed, and what we
didn’t.

During the coronavirus pandemic, our poet in digital residence Matt Sowerby is running weekly online workshops to help our partners and supporters respond creatively to the impact of the virus and lockdown.

Dozens join e-choir for rendition of a Disney classic

New songs for a strange land

Way Maker

Running a Good Society conversation

Something to wonder at and ponder on….

Gathering on the Margins – 23 June

Vacancy: Your Local Pantry Scottish Development Worker

Vacancy: Challenge Poverty Week Intern

A Fair and Just Future for Cornwall

Signs – a poem

Matt Sowerby shared this poem in one of his workshops as Church Action on Poverty's poet in digital residence.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Matt is running weekly online workshops to help our partners and supporters respond creatively to the impact of the virus and lockdown.

Dozens join e-choir for rendition of a Disney classic

New songs for a strange land

Way Maker

Running a Good Society conversation

Something to wonder at and ponder on….

Gathering on the Margins – 23 June

Vacancy: Your Local Pantry Scottish Development Worker

Vacancy: Challenge Poverty Week Intern

A Fair and Just Future for Cornwall

Pinkie promise – a poem

Matt Sowerby shared this poem in one of his workshops as our poet in digital residence.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Matt is running weekly online workshops to help our partners and supporters respond creatively to the impact of the virus and lockdown.

Vacancy: Your Local Pantry Scottish Development Worker

Vacancy: Challenge Poverty Week Intern

A Fair and Just Future for Cornwall

Vacancy: Your Local Pantry Scottish Development Worker

Vacancy: Challenge Poverty Week Intern

A Fair and Just Future for Cornwall

Media for lockdown – what to read, listen to and watch

Do you have time on your hands during the lockdown? Our Communications Manager suggests some books, TV and podcasts that could keep you occupied – and help you understand UK poverty and campaigning better!

Read

Second Class Citizens: The treatment of disabled people in Austerity Britain by Stef Benstead

A powerful book by one of our trustees. Professor Peter Beresford, co-chair of Shaping Our Lives, said it provides “the definitive verdict on government welfare reform, the UK’s shame”. 

Poverty Safari: Understanding the anger of Britain’s underclass by Darren McGarvey

A challenging, personal perspective on UK poverty and how to tackle it, drawing
on Scottish rapper Loki’s own experiences of community activism and growing up in poverty.

The Shame Game: Overturning the toxic poverty narrative by Mary O’Hara

Crucially, this book about changing the portrayal of poverty draws on the insights of people who experience it.

Mission from Below: Building a kingdom community by Janet Hodgson and Stephen Conway

How two nuns worked alongside local people to loosen poverty’s grip in a North East community. An inspirational story of church on the margins.

Listen

Frame[s] of Mind

A podcast about how language can help change people’s perceptions of issues – by the Frameworks Institute, who have helped develop innovative new frames for talking about UK poverty.

Social Power

A podcast from the Sheila McKechnie Foundation about social change and how to bring it about. 

Sound Delivery

This organisation has a wide range of audio available on Soundcloud, all sharing stories from people who have experience of poverty and other issues, and whose voices aren’t usually heard.

Watch

Broken

This 2017 BBC TV series by Jimmy McGovern is about a Catholic priest in a poor Liverpool community. It’s a powerful depiction of how the church can make a difference by sharing in people’s brokenness on the margins of society. It touches on issues Church Action on Poverty has campaigned on, such as high-cost lending. It’s available to watch on Netflix or YouTube.

Communications and Supporter Relations Manager

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

Vacancy: Your Local Pantry Scottish Development Worker

Vacancy: Challenge Poverty Week Intern

A Fair and Just Future for Cornwall

Voice: a poem

Penny Walters wrote this poem as part of a poetry workshop run by our poet in digital residence Matt Sowerby.

i am hidden small and dainty
issues with health and motivation
my world is crumbling around me 
my pain is hidden from all to see 
but i have one thing 
i have a voice
abused and berated downcast
shunned by government and society
unloved and forgotten 
but i have a voice 
i use my voice 
loud and clear 
shout and scream
for all to hear
more articulate more knowledge and more motivation
i am here to help to use my voice 
to speak up for those who cant 
who are hidden like me 
who feel that there is no hope 
i have a voice 
Penny has been speaking out about her experiences through our Food Power programme. Click here to read her story.

Dozens join e-choir for rendition of a Disney classic

New songs for a strange land

Way Maker

Running a Good Society conversation

Something to wonder at and ponder on….

Gathering on the Margins – 23 June

Vacancy: Your Local Pantry Scottish Development Worker

Vacancy: Challenge Poverty Week Intern

A Fair and Just Future for Cornwall