Workshop registration open: Transforming injustice in UK austerity & poverty

A participatory workshop from our partners at the 'Life on the Breadline' project - challenging and reflecting on the Church’s aim to transform unjust structures of society in austerity Britain.

What are the different forms of poverty in the UK and how do they relate to each other? How can the Church be an effective agent for change in an age of austerity? How can the Bible and Christian tradition enable us to challenge structural injustice?

This participatory workshop on 13 September 2019 will revolve around small group discussion of these three questions that reflect on transforming unjust structures.

Speakers include:

  • the Life on the Breadline research team
  • Niall Cooper (Church Action on Poverty)
  • Helen Gale (B30 Foodbank)
  • Heather Buckingham (Trussell Trust)
  • Anthony Reddie (The Council for World Mission and the University of South Africa )
  • Paul Morrison (Joint Public Issues Team)

The workshop will take place at Elm Bank, Coventry University, Coventry CV1 2LQ.

Elm Bank is a short walk from Coventry train station and nearby bus stops. There is no public car parking at the venue, but on-street parking is possible a 10-minute walk away.

Tea and coffee will be available from 9:30am, and the workshop will start at 10:00am and finish at 3:30pm.

The workshop is free to attend but places are limited. Please register in advance. 

Church Action on Poverty is a partner in the ‘Life on the Breadlines‘ research project.

Workshop registration open: Transforming injustice in UK austerity & poverty

Vacancy: Supporter Administrator and Office Manager

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

Workshop registration open: Transforming injustice in UK austerity & poverty

Vacancy: Supporter Administrator and Office Manager

Tackling funeral poverty

Vacancy: Supporter Administrator and Office Manager

Are you passionate about working with us to tackle the causes of poverty by managing the administrative functions of this small national charity?

Supporter Administrator and Office Manager
£22,462 – £27,905 pro rata
Salford
28 hours per week

You will have the knowledge, skills & experience of managing a small office environment, to help the continuous development of efficient and effective systems and processes to help the charity thrive.

The post comes with 25 days’ annual leave pro rata, and an auto enrolment pension contribution.

Closing Date:   17 July
Interviews:       23 July in Salford

If you would prefer us to send you a printed application pack, please email us or call 0161 872 9294.

Workshop registration open: Transforming injustice in UK austerity & poverty

Vacancy: Supporter Administrator and Office Manager

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

Workshop registration open: Transforming injustice in UK austerity & poverty

Vacancy: Supporter Administrator and Office Manager

Tackling funeral poverty

Your Local Pantry opens in Preston

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.

Workshop registration open: Transforming injustice in UK austerity & poverty

Vacancy: Supporter Administrator and Office Manager

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

Tackling funeral poverty

Workshop registration open: Transforming injustice in UK austerity & poverty

Vacancy: Supporter Administrator and Office Manager

Tackling funeral poverty

Lifelines in a crisis: what can cities do?

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).

Workshop registration open: Transforming injustice in UK austerity & poverty

Vacancy: Supporter Administrator and Office Manager

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?

How to save £22 a week on food AND help your community

Transforming poverty through the silver screen

Workshop registration open: Transforming injustice in UK austerity & poverty

Vacancy: Supporter Administrator and Office Manager

Tackling funeral poverty

Church on the fringe?

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!


Workshop registration open: Transforming injustice in UK austerity & poverty

Vacancy: Supporter Administrator and Office Manager

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?

Workshop registration open: Transforming injustice in UK austerity & poverty

Vacancy: Supporter Administrator and Office Manager

Tackling funeral poverty

Finding a focus: churches tackling poverty together

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.

Workshop registration open: Transforming injustice in UK austerity & poverty

Vacancy: Supporter Administrator and Office Manager

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?

Workshop registration open: Transforming injustice in UK austerity & poverty

Vacancy: Supporter Administrator and Office Manager

Your Local Pantry opens in Preston

For richer, for poorer

Pengilley painting
Revd Dr David Primrose (Director of Transforming Communities in the Diocese of Lichfield and a trustee of Church Action on Poverty) reflects on a fruitful and courageous partnership.

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