fbpx

The Joint Public Issues Team (JPIT) is a partnership between the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church, with the Church of Scotland as an associate member. The purpose of JPIT is to help the Churches to work together on issues of peace and justice.

JPIT works to amplify the voice of our denominations in the public sphere, as well as supporting local churches to engage with the public issues that matter to them. We help members of our churches, church leaders and other people passionate about using their heart for justice to take practical actions for change. We do this through listening, learning, praying, speaking and acting on public policy issues. 

We have two podcast series – 10 Minutes on – which features short discussions of topical issues and Politics in the Pulpit which equips Ministers and worship leaders to unpack justice and peace issues in their weekly services.

Our team’s work is built around six hopes for society, stemming from our shared faith in what God promises for all creation. These six hopes are for: 

·       A just economy that enables the flourishing of all life

·       A society where the poorest and most marginalised are at the centre

·       A world that actively works for peace

·       A planet where our environment is renewed

·       A society that welcomes the stranger

·       A politics characterised by listening, kindness and truthfulness

Whilst they don’t define every area of justice our denominations and members care about, these six hopes help us to focus our work together. By working together in these areas, we seek to have the most transformative impact we can as we speak truth to power together.

We’re delighted to be working alongside the APLE collective and Church Action on Poverty to engage with our hope to see ‘a society where the poorest and most marginalised are at the centre’. We recognise that there’s significant injustice in the way that the systems of society are built against people on the margins whilst giving advantages to the most powerful. It’s going to take all of us to change this – at a local, national and international level. This means transformation which brings people at the margins of decision making into the centre – so that people who are experts by their experience of poverty have agency in creating change for good. As a team, our work on poverty and inequality concentrates on some of the UK’s biggest current challenges, such as the cost of living crisis, the housing
crisis and reform to the welfare system.

 

We’ve written briefings on poverty and inequality, supported campaigns for an Essentials Guarantee and free school meals and signed an open letter to the government asking for everyone to get #EnoughToLive. In a rich country like the UK, poverty and inequality are a political and moral choice. We desperately want to see real political change where those who have the least are elevated to the centre of our society – creating a new system which enables the flourishing of all

Merseyside Pantries reach big milestone

Transforming the Jericho Road

Partner focus: Meet Community One Stop in Edinburgh

Thank you Pat! 40 years of compassionate action

Halifax voices: on housing, hope and scandalous costs

The UK doesn’t want demonising rhetoric – it wants to end poverty

6 people holding cut-out numbers, reading 150,000

Merseyside Pantries reach big milestone

Transforming the Jericho Road

A photo of two volunteers in Your Local Pantry aprons, beside a photo of two members shopping

Partner focus: Meet Community One Stop in Edinburgh

A group of walkers depart from Iona Abbey on the 1999 Pilgrimage Against Poverty.

Last year, the Pilgrimage on the Margins listened to people and amplified truths revealed by people from communities on the margins across the UK. Eight pilgrimage events took place throughout the year, including one on the island of Iona, where our friends the Iona Community hosted a group of 20 people involved in our networks who have lived experience of poverty.

The participants wrote several anonymous poems reflecting on dignity and agency. We have captured and transcribed the poems below. 

Poem One

Starved like in winter

Hungry for new direction

Take Observation

Poem Two

Birds take flight above

Rabbits feeding down below

Sea crashing to shore

Sun shining through Cloudy Sky

A humbling sight to behold

Poem Three

I have a voice!

Why do you not hear it?

Are you under water?

She knows what I really mean

I go RED trying to speak

I feel like a cat observed

But not really listened to

When my voice is heard my

Passion and hope shine through

Poem Four

A cigarette is the best and the worst

It is intoxication, poison, smelly…

Relaxing, calming, socialising

A breath of fresh air

Poverty is the worst

Poverty is poison

It’s intoxicating

Poverty brings socialising

Being a breath of fresh air

Poem Five

I call but do you listen?

I call but do you hear the noise?

Are you busy playing football?

Or playing with your toys?

I cry are you my comfort?

I cry are you holding out your hand?

Are you busy listening to music?

Do you not understand?

I call but do you hear me?

I call but are you here?

Are you busy playing board games?

Or walking around in fear?

I cry, my wails are louder

I cry, my heart it breaks

Do you give me your shoulder?

Or make a difference raising steaks?

I call till there is no voice left

I call, just hear my cry

Are you going to leave me calling?

Until the day I die?

I cry for the injustice

I cry please do respond

Will you leave me drowning?

Swimming in this pond?

She knows what I really mean

He knows what I really mean

They know what I really mean

Do you?

Are you wondering round like a tiger?

Are you burring your head like an ostrich?

Seeing the black or seeing red?

I hope you know what I really mean

Poem Six

I don’t think of fags

I think off meds

I don’t like the mess

I cannot get out of this mess

I choke and cough, then the cost

Of habit, in need or could I concede

Poverty is the cost of my meds before bread

I have no choice in actions

It is pain of a full belly to gain what’s really not me

For nobody can see

Poem Seven

She knows what I really mean

For everything begins with the unseen

She knows what I really mean

She cast a look, a word and she can be heard

She knows what I mean

Is the water clean?

Can I drink it if it’s green?

No, she knows what I mean

Stop being a queen

Scratching at the dream

Let the sun shine

And all will be fine

I hope

Poem Eight

Do you care

About what we have to share?

Even if people stop and stare

Let us open up, leave

Ourselves bare

But do you care if I’M THERE?

A story which I would like to share

Of poverty and cupboards bare

Please send me the fare

Surely you have money to spare

Do you care for my despair?

For my hunger is still there?

Poem Nine

She knows what I really mean

When I say it’s all too much

The water bill is so high

The gas, the electric too

But still, these red bills keep coming through

The door each day!

You never know, if I ignore them

Maybe they’ll go away

Prices are going through the roof

It’s getting expensive to even feed the cat

But I know that things are changing

And I remain in hope that the future will be better

For all of us to shine

Merseyside Pantries reach big milestone

Transforming the Jericho Road

Partner focus: Meet Community One Stop in Edinburgh

Thank you Pat! 40 years of compassionate action

Halifax voices: on housing, hope and scandalous costs

The UK doesn’t want demonising rhetoric – it wants to end poverty

6 people holding cut-out numbers, reading 150,000

Merseyside Pantries reach big milestone

Transforming the Jericho Road

A photo of two volunteers in Your Local Pantry aprons, beside a photo of two members shopping

Partner focus: Meet Community One Stop in Edinburgh

A group of 12 people, in two rows, outside a log cabin

We're looking forward to our 'Dignity for All' conference this summer. One of our key partners in the event is the APLE Collective. Here's their story.

A group of 12 people, in two rows, outside a log cabin

The APLE Collective is a national collective of individuals who experience poverty, working together with organisations that support us to take positive action to eradicate poverty.

The Collective was formed in 2018, when a number of groups led by people with direct experience of poverty were invited to meet up with the Poverty2Solutions alliance (ATD Fourth World, Dole Animators and Thrive):

  • Hope Rising Action
  • Salford Poverty Truth Commission
  • West Cheshire Poverty Truth Commission
  • Community Pride CIC
  • Expert Citizens

All agreed that it would be good to come together as a larger network of people with direct experience of poverty. It is only when people with direct experience of an issue are able to affect the decisions that affect them that real, meaningful change can happen. People with direct experience of poverty have experience and expertise that are critical to inform effective decision-making processes. They have the potential to make positive advancements with life chances and improvements in personal livelihoods. Having a lone voice without support makes this difficult. A collective can offer support and make it possible to affect change.

The collective agreed this mission statement:

“We aim to create a sustainable grassroots network across the UK. To raise awareness of poverty, reduce stigma and work together to affect change”

The first piece of work actioned by the APLE collective was held on October 17th (International Day for the Eradication of Poverty). Groups led by people with direct experience of poverty throughout the UK united and raised awareness through activities including an event at the House of Lords , a ‘speakers’ corner’, a workshop for the Social Audit Network Annual Conference, creating Poverty Zines, a Twitter takeover of journalist Ros Wynne Jones’ Wigan Pier Project, and a letter to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which was published by The Times.

APLE Collective continued to develop in 2019, with another successful International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. APLE Collective members asked for groups with lived experience of poverty to share their anti-poverty campaign action with APLE. This activism was mapped onto an interactive UK Map which enabled users of APLE’s aplecollective.com website to scroll over icons on the map and see what anti-poverty activism by lived experience was happening across the UK.

As the pandemic was declared in March 2020 face-to-face meetings became Zoom meetings, and digital exclusion among our members was an immediate issue. Digital exclusion for APLE Collective was an issue not simply in terms of accessing community support, public health information, home education and job searching, but more fundamentally about voice. To be digitally excluded in 2020 meant to be silenced.

We spoke at the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Universal Credit, at the Local Trust Conference and at a variety of other locally based events sharing the issues around the digital divide and seeking solutions. This digital divide campaigning was amplified during the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, when we once again lit up our UK map with the actions and voices of lived experience.

The APLE campaign to address the digital divide continued to gain traction through 2021, and we won a UK Parliament Award for Digital Campaigner of the Year 2021!

“It’s great to see the recognition of the campaigning work produced by the APLE Collective. APLE were quick to respond to many different issues both locally and nationally.”
Tracey Herrington

We also published a book, Voices of Lived Experience of Poverty During COVID-19, which asked: “How would your experience of the COVID-19 pandemic have been different if you had no access to the internet?“

Drawing on case studies from Thrive Teeside, ATD Fourth World and Expert Citizens (APLE Collective organisations), this book interrogates the term ‘lived experience’. It critically investigates how knowledge gained from lived experiences of poverty is integral to developing effective COVID-19 policy responses.

And since June 2021, we have held an annual #APLEMonth! The APLE Collective highlighted and celebrated all of the organisations, charities and individuals who have lived experience of poverty or use their voice to campaign against poverty and inequality.


Church Action on Poverty is excited to be working in partnership with the APLE collective. They are helping to make sure that our ‘Dignity for All’ conference is genuinely led by the real experts – people with lived experience of poverty.

Merseyside Pantries reach big milestone

Transforming the Jericho Road

Partner focus: Meet Community One Stop in Edinburgh

Thank you Pat! 40 years of compassionate action

Halifax voices: on housing, hope and scandalous costs

The UK doesn’t want demonising rhetoric – it wants to end poverty

Sheffield Civic Breakfast: leaders told about mounting pressures of poverty

Artists perform for change in Manchester

Church Action on Poverty in Sheffield: annual report 2023-24

SPARK newsletter summer 2024

Church on the Margins reports

Church Action on Poverty North East annual report 2022-24

6 people holding cut-out numbers, reading 150,000

Merseyside Pantries reach big milestone

Transforming the Jericho Road

A photo of two volunteers in Your Local Pantry aprons, beside a photo of two members shopping

Partner focus: Meet Community One Stop in Edinburgh

Great news of a success for a campaign highlighted at a Church Action on Poverty event! Chris Hughes, of our North East group, reports.

At Church Action on Poverty North East’s event for Church Action on Poverty Sunday 2023 at St Cuthbert’s, North Shields, a student from St Thomas More High School in North Shields talked about the injustice of having to pay full fare for Arriva Buses.

As part of their listening cycle as a member of Tyne and Wear Citizens, students from the school had expressed their frustration at having to pay adult fares from 16. It meant trips to school, Newcastle for work and or social purposes became expensive and added to their own and family financial pressures.

Attempts at contacting Arriva Buses had been fruitless until the Mayor of the North of Tyne Combined Authority, Jamie O’Driscoll, contacted the company on behalf of the school. This did produce a response.

Students met with their Commercial Director, Kim Purcell, in July 2023. Ms Purcell was impressed with the students and promised to explore what could be done.They had dressed up in their parents’ work clothes to make the point that being perceived as adults can look absurd.

The students were delighted to recently discover that Arriva had announced that as of this month, all young people from 17 to 20 would only have to pay £1 for each one-way ticket. There is no doubt that their campaign was influential in bringing about this change.

Thousands of young people and their families across the North East are going to benefit from this change and from the campaigning efforts of the students of St Thomas More. Congratulations and much respect to all involved!
 
Chris Hughes is a governor of St Thomas More High School and a member of Church Action on Poverty North East.

Merseyside Pantries reach big milestone

Transforming the Jericho Road

Partner focus: Meet Community One Stop in Edinburgh

Thank you Pat! 40 years of compassionate action

Halifax voices: on housing, hope and scandalous costs

The UK doesn’t want demonising rhetoric – it wants to end poverty

6 people holding cut-out numbers, reading 150,000

Merseyside Pantries reach big milestone

Transforming the Jericho Road

A photo of two volunteers in Your Local Pantry aprons, beside a photo of two members shopping

Partner focus: Meet Community One Stop in Edinburgh

Mary Passeri stands smiling in front of some of her paintings

Change comes, not from looking and seeing - but from taking action. And Mary has certainly done lots of that.

Mary Passeri stands smiling in front of some of her paintings
Mary Passeri, at her art studio in York. Photo by David Harrison.

Are you ready?…

In the past eight years, Mary has spent time:

  • tackling social isolation
  • cooking and sharing food
  • improving coordination between food banks
  • helping journalists improve media coverage of poverty
  • speaking up about injustice
  • highlighting ways to improve support for carers
  • working to make her own city better
  • helping politicians understand what went wrong with food systems during the pandemic
  • listening widely to people on low incomes
  • sharing her own wisdom and first-hand insights
  • talking to people in poverty, to politicians, to journalists, to researchers, to church leaders and to an Archbishop
  • working with others to carry on addressing injustice

Briefly, among all of that, she paused for a week of vital and rewarding rest and reflection with fellow activists on the Scottish island of Iona… and came back reenergised more than ever.

People at the 2022 pilgrimage gathering on Iona.

Mary: a sense of peace and purpose

“When I was in Iona, I just got the feeling I was around really decent human beings.

“It can be really lonely and isolating to speak up on issues, you can feel like you’re yapping away. Being on Iona, and meeting people face to face, sharing a laugh together and learning from each other’s ideas and mistakes, was amazing.

“I came back and it had quite a lasting effect on me. For me, it brought peace and purpose. I felt at ease and thought: ‘You know what… maybe we can do something more’.”

Mary: speaking up matters

Mary Passeri & Sydnie Corley sit in a small radio studio, speaking into microphones.
Mary (left) and friend Sydnie Corley, speaking up on BBC 5 Live, about the solutions to poverty.

Mary is now part of the national Speaking Truth To Power programme, in partnership with Church Action on Poverty, working with others around the UK on a national panel to address big issues.

“I wanted to get into the national stuff with Church Action on Poverty because it had a real focus but was still flexible. It didn’t over-promise, but has real targets.

“I took part in the Food Experiences During Covid-19 project, and I loved that. I found it really interesting, and because it was so wide, I was talking to people in Cornwall and Newcastle and hearing people encountering very similar issues in all these different places.

“Having done that, I then wanted to do the Speaking Truth To Power work as well. I saw, more than ever, the need for people to be heard. It’s too easy to discount voices. I realise I have done it myself, and not always listened to everyone equally, and sometimes have to force myself to listen better, but it’s important.

Mary: speak up in the church

A shot of people around a large table, including the Archbishop of York
Mary (back right in the picture below) was one of the people who took part in the roundtable on tackling poverty, with the Archbishop of York in 2022.
A posed group shot on the steps of Bishopthorpe Palace, of event attendees

“Voices of people in poverty need to reach people in power. I am not a church person, and don’t like a lot of churches, but the churches have a wide network and a nationwide voice, and I like where churches have put their head above the parapet and said things that need to be said. I took part in a regional roundtable event with the Archbishop of York last year, and it was excellent, as people were heard.

“My health and my care demands mean I cannot do full-time employed work, or as much work as I used to – but I can do this, and I feel if you can contribute, you should. Church Action on Poverty is about pragmatic responses. It’s looking to resolve things, not just looking and seeing them. It supports people to speak up and articulate what you are feeling.

“When I was working professionally, I was used to running departments and being heard, but after I became ill, after my strokes, I lost all confidence. The sense of being able to use my voice, and being heard, was gone – but through being part of this work with Church Action on Poverty, I will not let that happen again.

“Every time I put my head above the parapet, I got shot down – but now I have confidence again. I have gained a lot by being part of this work, raising awareness of poverty and what it does.

Mary: speak up with young people

“There are issues I hope we can highlight through the Speaking Truth To Power work. My generation is largely okay, but a lot needs to be done to support people with caring responsibilities. Caring allowance is not enough and there is not enough support.

“And we also need to do more to create opportunities for young people. We are at risk of alienating our young people and we need to create more opportunities. Sometimes around here I see what I call “30-year-old teenagers” – people who have not been supported and who have been denied opportunities when they were younger that could make a difference.

“I also think that everything that comes through Parliament now is about scapegoating. They talk about getting people into work, but don’t recognise that some people cannot. And everything carries a warning: “Do this…. Or else.” We need to engage people.

Mary: speak up creatively

Sydnie Corley and Mary Passeri with some of their art, including pictures, decorated tote bags and wall decorations
Above and below: Mary (right) and Sydnie, at their old art studio and food hub in York. The friends are both talented artists and passionate social justice activists. Photos by David Harrison.
York artists Sydnie Corley and Mary Passeri, who run the York Food Justice Alliance at SPARK in Piccadilly, York. Picture by David Harrison.

Mary’s recent years of activism began around 2015 really, through a café called Chill In The Community, near her home in Acomb in west York.

“We had a table with surplus supermarket food that people could take, and the idea was that the free groceries might help people to afford to have a coffee and to be in the company of other people, so it was tackling social isolation – and we didn’t let people go without, so it was very welcoming.

“After that, I started working with the York “Food Not Bombs” group, cooking and delivering food, supporting people who were homeless. Soon after that, York Food Poverty Alliance was set up, and I got really involved in that, as it meant all the York food banks started talking to each other more. We were also running a food unit in the city centre, where people could access food without stigma.

“After a while, it became York Food Justice Alliance, and I became co-chair with Sydney, and we said if it was about justice, then we needed to have an activist element, rather than just discussing how to hand out food. That didn’t sit well with everyone, but we felt it had to happen.”

Mary: speak up in the media

Gavin Aitchison, Martin Green, Sydnie Corley and Mary Passeri at an NUJ meeting in London
Mary Passeri, right, during an event in London to discuss ethical media reporting of poverty

In 2018/19, Mary took part in a York Community Reporters project, where several women made smartphone videos, explaining and showing the realities of food poverty locally. 

The film was shown at a public event in York, and soon afterwards Mary and Sydnie featured on the national BBC 6 O’Clock News, Radio 5 Live and on BBC Radio York, talking about hunger in the city, and the particular challenges caused by the low level of carers’ allowance.

She also worked with the NUJ, journalists and other campaign groups, to help produce new guidelines for reporting on poverty.

Most recently, Mary has used her artistic skills to lead creative sessions among the Speaking Truth To Power groups, encouraging people to visually capture the nature of poverty and solutions. 

Mary Passeri sitting at a table, being filmed by a TV camera crew.
Mary Passeri is interviewed for BBC News in 2020.

Mary says: “I like working with Church Action on Poverty, because everything is transparent. They never make promises they can’t keep, or say we’ll definitely achieve what we want to – they say how they will take things forward, and that they will try to achieve our aims, which is all we can keep doing.”

Speaking Truth To Power

Mary is part of the Speaking Truth To Power national panel. You can learn more about two more of the participants below, and look out for more insights over the coming months.

 

Merseyside Pantries reach big milestone

Transforming the Jericho Road

Partner focus: Meet Community One Stop in Edinburgh

Thank you Pat! 40 years of compassionate action

Halifax voices: on housing, hope and scandalous costs

The UK doesn’t want demonising rhetoric – it wants to end poverty

Sheffield Civic Breakfast: leaders told about mounting pressures of poverty

Artists perform for change in Manchester

Church Action on Poverty in Sheffield: annual report 2023-24

SPARK newsletter summer 2024

Church on the Margins reports

Church Action on Poverty North East annual report 2022-24

Stories that challenge: Sarah and Rosie’s health

Dreams & Realities: welcome to an incredible exhibition

Building hopes and dreams in Bootle

This outrageous, counter-productive Budget marginalises people with least

A sermon for Church Action on Poverty Sunday

Stories that challenge: Emma’s road to church

Sheffield voices: We need higher incomes and more for young people

Cost of living scandal: 7 truly useful church responses

Stories that challenge: Alan & Ben

7 ways a Your Local Pantry could help YOUR community in 2024

Artist Don: How Leith Pantry has helped ease my depression

Are we set for a landmark legal change on inequality?

SPARK newsletter winter 2023-24

Let’s say what we truly want society to look like – Let’s End Poverty

6 people holding cut-out numbers, reading 150,000

Merseyside Pantries reach big milestone

Transforming the Jericho Road

A photo of two volunteers in Your Local Pantry aprons, beside a photo of two members shopping

Partner focus: Meet Community One Stop in Edinburgh