Church Action on Poverty in Sheffield's annual Pilgrimage event will take place online, on 7 October.
For more than a decade, Sheffield Church Action on Poverty has organised an annual pilgrimage designed to raise awareness and understanding of how poverty is affecting people in Sheffield.
Each pilgrimage has involved a circular walk around a specific area of Sheffield, stopping at different faith-based initiatives which aim to reduce the effects of poverty in the city to hear about their work.
Changed circumstances mean that we can’t take you to the initiatives, so we are organising a ‘Virtual Pilgrimage’ to bring the initiatives to you.
We’re inviting you to take part by viewing short videos covering the work of several initiatives and then, if you want to ask questions or find out more, take part in a Zoom meeting with project organisers.
This year we’ll be visiting:
- Help Us Help, an initiative to help the homeless and rough sleepers
- Manor Church and Community Project
- Parson Cross Initiative, PXI, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary
- Attercliffe and Darnall Mission.
Be open to being challenged and changed by what you see and hear by viewing the videos and taking part in the Zoom conference.
The videos can be viewed now by clicking the link below. The Zoom meeting will take place on Wednesday 7 October at 7:30pm.
If you wish to attend the Zoom meeting please contact Briony Broome by clicking the button below, or call 07801 532954.
'Life-Changing Stories' is Church Action on Poverty's new series of Bible studies, to be published on 8 October 2020.
‘Life-Changing Stories’ includes five Bible studies on the book of Acts. They offer challenging new perspectives on this story of people on the margins who were empowered to go out and change the world.
It is an ideal resource for churches or house groups running Lent programmes in 2021. It can also be used for personal study and reflection.
It is the third publication in Church Action on Poverty’s ‘Scripture from the Margins’ series. As with previous instalments, these studies respond to the way that the Bible shows us a God who is on the side of the poor and the oppressed. People on the margins.
Commenting on a previous publication in the series, Revd Richard Lamey, Rector of St Paul at Wokingham, said:
“An excellent course – accessible, opinionated, challenging, affirming and easy to lead and to build on… So many courses are dull and simplistic – yours opened up new vistas. There was never a sense of being forced into a right answer or finding an easy solution. It was a complex course for complex times and a complex faith.”
‘Life-Changing Stories’ features studies by five different authors, bringing a range of perspectives and expertise:
- Jan Sutch Pickard, well known as a poet, storyteller and liturgist for the Iona Community
- Revd Nick Jowett, author of Wisdom’s Children
- Sue Richardson, Theological Education Adviser for Christian Aid
- Ruth Wilde, National Coordinator of Inclusive Church
- Revd Dr Raj Patta, an expert in Dalit liberation theology
Life-Changing Stories will be available for free from Church Action on Poverty’s website on 8 October.
The second episode of The Collective, exploring Community responses to the crisis, is now online. Watch the full episode here:
The Collective is an hour of inspiring stories of collective action to promote dignity, agency and power.
In this episode we heard how communities in different parts of the country have been coming together to tackle the challenges posed by the Covid crisis.
Penny, who is based in Byker in Newcastle told us about how the mutual aid group there allowed members of the community to support each other, and how they’ve maintained a sense of pride and community spirit throughout the crisis.
From the North-East to the South West, Andrew told us about the Cornwall Independent Poverty Forum’s report, A Fair and Just Future for Cornwall, and how communities can speak truth to power.
Purple Shoots, who work with Self-Reliant Groups in South Wales and the south west of England, came up with a really creative way of building a sense of community between the groups this summer, even though they couldn’t meet in person – a virtual village show.
Gemma is a grassroots member of the Manchester Poverty Truth Commission. She talked about how they have been speaking truth to power and shared the Commission’s reflections about what we as a society should and should not accept as ‘normal’.
And finally, Matt Sowerby told us about the poetry anthology he has been helping put together called Same Boat. This is a collection of poems recording different people’s experiences during lockdown.
No Fixed Abode by Maeve McClenaghan is published this month. It tells the stories of many people who have been pushed into homelessness and who have died or lost friends – and it challenges us all to make this a turning point.
Tony sat down in the garden of his former home in Lowestoft, and froze to death. He was 57.
Fiona was found under a bridge in Leeds, where she had been sleeping. She was 46.
Alan was 81 when he died in hospital, having been sleeping rough outside a shopping centre in Norwich.
Hamid was 55 when he died in a hotel room, having been forced by the cold out of the car where he had been living. He had been academically brilliant as a teenager, and had applied in the late 1990s to be a research assistant to Professor Stephen Hawking.
Cardon was 74 when he died in a tent, where he lay undiscovered for some time.
Jayne died in a doorway in Stafford, aged 53.
We could continue this way, line by line, person by person, year after year. All over the country, all too often, people who have become homeless die prematurely and avoidably.
Often there are individual moments where opportunities were missed. Police did not respond to the first call about Tony, for instance; a health appointment Jayne requested was accidentally not booked. Yet there are always bigger structural issues and attitudes at play, such as poverty; the insufficient support for people moving into adulthood after traumatic childhoods; the national housing shortage; a dehumanising public rhetoric around homelessness; severe cuts to vital services through the ‘austerity’ programme; and a reluctance by councils to carry out Safeguarding Adult Reviews after the death of a homeless person.
Until recently, the full scale of the crisis was not known. How many people died while homeless in 2010? How did that compare to two years, 10 years, 20 years earlier? What were the recurring factors, causes or lessons that could be learned? Nobody knew – until, in December 2018, the Office for National Statistics published the first official data showing how many people were dying homeless. They recorded a figure of 597 in England and Wales for 2017 and, analysing historical data, calculated that figure had likely risen by 24% in five years.
The news made headlines all around the country. For the first time, the scale of the crisis was clear and No Fixed Abode is the story behind the story.
Author Maeve McClenaghan, a journalist at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, began exploring homelessness when it was visibly rising. She spoke to relatives of people who had died but was surprised to find nobody recorded the total figures, so the Bureau and many journalists around the country began sharing information from their own communities.
Ultimately, their data helped the ONS find a viable methodology to record annual figures.
No Fixed Abode is a vital work. It charts the journalistic tenacity that helped change the system and tells the stories of some of those who have died. It also shines light on the compassionate work of countless small community projects, and brings powerful first-person insight from people such as David.
David was about to take his own life on a park bench, when he was spotted and stopped by a park officer, who listened, helped, and in doing so changed everything. David went on to become an artist, and in autumn 2018, when the Bureau’s initial figures were revealed, he spoke on Channel 4 News.
“We have this fear to talk to homeless people, we seem to dehumanise them.”David Tovey, a campaigner who used to be homeless, and Crisis Policy Director Matthew Downie respond to new figures which suggest that at least 449 homeless people have died in the UK in the last year. pic.twitter.com/6vkl3jqIAj— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) October 9, 2018
David Tovey, a campaigner who used to be homeless, and Crisis Policy Director Matthew Downie respond to new figures which suggest that at least 449 homeless people have died in the UK in the last year. pic.twitter.com/6vkl3jqIAj
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) October 9, 2018
No Fixed Abode was researched and written before the coronavirus pandemic, but the manner in which it exacerbated inequalities is addressed in the preface.
People who are homeless have circumstances that make them more vulnerable to the pandemic, it notes. Homeless people already had higher mortality rates and were far more likely to have respiratory problems, mental health issues or substance abuse issues.
The pandemic also changed society’s ideas of what is possible. By Government order, thousands of people were accommodated without question, as services focused on one non-negotiable end goal. McClenaghan writes: “As pleased as I was to see it happen, I couldn’t help but wonder: should it really have taken a global pandemic to get us here?”
Can such a can-do attitude last? Can we continue to achieve the unthinkable, by focusing on the end goal and not getting bogged down in process?
The pandemic will sweep millions into or towards poverty, but it has also brought communities together, challenged what we as a society prioritise, and enabled us to see clearly how many lifelines and safety rails have been removed over the years.
McClenaghan writes: “For many, the effect of years of austerity policies and tightened belts was invisible… But this pandemic has taught us that the invisible catches up with us and, when it does, we can either bury our heads in the sand or face up to where we have come to…. I hope the frustrations and injustices laid out in this book are a thing of the past. But unless we stare them down, understand how they happened and why, we will never learn how to build back better.”
This autumn, Church Action on Poverty will be working harder than ever to challenge poverty, and we hope you’re up for joining us in this urgent task.
By our director, Niall Cooper.
We will be joining with others on three national campaigns to speak truth to power over the next two months. With others, we will be making the case for urgent Government action to ensure that the millions of families who have been swept into poverty and debt as a result of Covid 19 are offered a lifeline to keep them afloat through the rough seas ahead.
Quite literally, millions of people have been swept into poverty, unemployment and debt as a direct result of the economic impact of Covid 19. People who were previously able to keep their head above water are now in severe difficulty. Others, who had been just staying afloat, now face being overwhelmed by circumstances entirely beyond their control.
1: Rishi Sunak can provide struggling families with a lifeline
Amongst all the other measures the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has taken over the past months, few have been more important to struggling families than the extra £20 a week on the basic rate of Universal Credit.
This has been a lifeline for many families as they’ve struggled to get through the coronavirus storm. However, it is due to end in April 2021, whipping the vital lifeline away. In October, the Chancellor has a chance to do the right thing and announce that hard pressed families will be able to keep the extra £20 a week on a permanent basis.
2: Marcus Rashford: Speaking truth to power on child food poverty
As the schools re-open this week, there’s much more to be done to ensure children are able to focus on their studies – rather than having to worry about where their next meal is coming from.
It’s this goal – ending child food poverty in Britain – which Manchester United and England footballer, Marcus Rashford, now has in his sights. Marcus himself grew up in poverty in Wythenshawe in south Manchester, and knew as a teenager what it was to go without food. That is what is motivating him to speak truth to power
“Food poverty is contributing to social unrest,” he wrote, reflecting on a series of recent meetings with families in need of the same support he counted on as a child. He described “watching a young boy keeping it together whilst his mother sobbed alongside him, feeling like he has to step up to protect his family and alleviate some of that worry. He was nine years old.”
“I know that feeling,” he wrote. “I remember the sound of my mum crying herself to sleep to this day, having worked a 14-hour shift, unsure how she was going to make ends meet. That was my reality.”
Marcus is backing calls on the Chancellor, to fund the implementation of three key policy recommendations from the national food strategy, a Government-commissioned report highlighting huge economic and health inequalities, which will be aggravated by the coronavirus crisis. These include:
- extending free school meals to all families in receipt of Universal Credit
- rolling out the Holiday food and activities programme, designed to tackle the growing problem of ‘holiday hunger’ nationwide.
3: Challenge Poverty Week
The first ever Challenge Poverty Week in England and Wales will run from October 12th to 18th, modelled on the successful Challenge Poverty Week which has been running in Scotland for the past seven years.
Challenge Poverty Week will provide an opportunity to celebrate the work that a wide range of organisations are doing to challenge poverty across the country It aims to:
- Raise voices in unison against poverty and show that we all want to live in a more just and compassionate country.
- Show what is already being done at community level to challenge and alleviate poverty.
- Build awareness and support for long term solutions that focus on enhancing the dignity and agency of people in poverty themselves.
- Change the conversation around poverty and help end the stigma.
Has there been a faith response to COVID-19? Find out what's been happening around the North East.
Join our local group in the North East on Zoom for their 2020 Annual General Meeting.
Friday 25 September
Reflect on where we are now in the North East with
Revd Deirdre Brower Latz
Principal of Nazarene College Manchester
Facilitator for Church Action on Poverty’s ‘Church on the Margins’ programme in Manchester
Click below to send us an email and book your place; we will send you the Zoom link.