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2021 conference: watch the recordings

On 20 November, people from around the UK gathered on Zoom to discuss how we can build a more powerful movement to reclaim dignity, agency and power. Watch the recordings from the day here.

The opening session: our Director Niall Cooper introduces our new strategy for building a movement that can reclaim dignity, agency and power. With opening worship led by Urzula Glienecke.

Participants discuss ways of building a movement in their own contexts.

Participants hear about our work to help churches prioritise people on the margins, and discuss how they could apply the ideas in their own churches.

Participants hear how we support people to set up Self-Reliant Groups – and get a taster of the new cookbook created by SRG members.

Participants discuss how our churches can learn from liberation theology’s approach to Bible studies led by people on the margins of society. Thanks to Revd Chris Howson for facilitating this workshop.

Participants gather again to reflect on what they’ve shared, and to attend our 2021 Annual General Meeting. Includes closing worship led by Urzula Glienecke.

Hope story: a united stand against hunger

Vacancy: Speaking Truth to Power Development Coordinator

How we ensure struggles are not ignored

What does the cost of living crisis mean for people in poverty?

Holding the church to account

On the road: recalling the time we took a bus all round Britain

SPARK newsletter winter 2021–22

6 ways we can build dignity, agency & power amid the cost of living crisis

Hope story 1: tenacity and change in Salford

Invisible Divides

Inside Your Local Pantry in Peckham.

The compassion in these neighbourhood pantries is fantastic!

SPARK newsletter summer 2022

Long read: How do we build dignity, agency & power together?

Niall Cooper, director of Church Action on Poverty, asks:  How do we build dignity, agency and power together as a society? 

Introduction

Church Action on Poverty’s vision is that the UK can and must be transformed into a country where everyone can live a full life, free from poverty. Poverty robs people of dignity, agency, of power over their own lives. We believe our vision – an end to poverty in the UK – can become a reality.

Our goal over the next 5-10 years is to contribute to building a social movement based on organising with people and communities struggling against poverty, to create the social and political space to reclaim dignity, agency and power.

I have been director of Church Action on Poverty for nearly 25 years, and will reflect here on our experiences of trying to develop a variety of practical organising, empowerment and advocacy programmes, and look ahead to new paths.

Our context: the denial of dignity, agency and power

The task of organising is indeed difficult in the current context. There is little prospect of significant action to tackle poverty at UK level, with a Government with an 80-seat majority in Parliament, which came to office with a focus on delivering Brexit but which is now faced with having to deal with the hugely damaging long term social and economic impacts of the pandemic. 

More widely, the Covid-19 pandemic has both brought into much sharper focus pre-existing inequalities in society, and led to dramatic increases in poverty, debt and levels of unemployment (especially for people under 25), which are significantly worse than that following not just the 2007 global economic crash, but the deep recessions of the 1970s and 1980s. 

For all the talk of ‘building back better’, this leaves many families and communities with the prospect of reduced life chances (and indeed, life expectancy) for years to come.

Beyond this, there are strong and deep seated public attitudes in the UK which stigmatise and blame individuals for their own poverty. 

Professor Ruth Lister describes this in terms of the ‘othering’ of people living in poverty.  Over many decades, these attitudes have not only been embedded in the welfare system, but have also been internalised by many people living in poverty themselves. 

In the words of Wayne Green, who spoke at the first National Poverty Hearing we held back in 1996: 

“What is poverty?  Poverty is a battle of invisibility, a lack of resources, exclusion, powerlessness… being blamed for society’s problems”  

To be clear also, the Churches have not been immune from these attitudes, from treating poverty as a problem to be addressed through individual behaviour change, or in more theological language ‘saving’ people from their self-inflicted poverty. 

This is the context in which poverty – and even many attempts to tackle it – rob people of their dignity, agency or power over their lives.

In spite of this, Church Action on Poverty affirms the belief in the transformational possibilities of people coming together to reclaim their dignity, agency and power.

Dignity

Pope_Francis

For Christians, the centrality of human dignity is based on the foundational theological principle that all human beings are created in the image and likeness of God. 

Maria Power states that Pope Francis’ recent encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, “offers a new vision of society in which human dignity and the human rights of all are respected…He has always wanted to make it clear that his papacy is one of action – placing the needs of the poor, marginalised and disenfranchised at the centre of his ministry.”

According to the United Nations, poverty is not only deprivation of economic or material resources but a violation of human dignity too.

The concept of human dignity is based on a particular pattern of perception: of perceiving humans as beings rather than things. The thing about dignity, and the reason it is a transformational concept, is that it knows no social, economic, gender or ethnic barriers.

Dignity is not something that can be given, but it is very definitely something that can be taken away.  This is not just a question for the way the state interacts with its citizens, for employers, the media or society at large, but it is also a question we have to address to ourselves.

Agency

To be truly human means being invested not only with dignity, but also with agency.  Agency is about people’s ability to act individually or collectively to further their own interests.  Agency is tricky.

People on the right seek to blame people for their own poverty, without understanding the wider forces which come into play on peoples lives to restrict their agency to act.  People on the left can focus so much on structural forces that create poverty and inequality they risk denying people any agency to change anything.

In Church Action on Poverty’s experience, people who struggle against poverty on a daily basis have far greater insight not just into the challenges they face, but a really deep understanding of what needs to change, and some of the best ideas for doing so.

In my experience, there is nothing more transformative than enabling a group of people to bond together, through sharing their own experiences and ‘truths’ about poverty, and to discover that these are not ‘personal’ problems, but shared experiences – and then to generate ideas and take action to address them together.  

This process of empowering people to ‘create their own space’ for reflection and action, is the heart of enabling people to reclaim a sense of agency, not just over their own lives, but to start to challenge and change the wider decisions, institutions and attitudes which so often constrain or negatively impact on them.

Power

Martin_Luther_King_monument

I frequently find that people both in the churches and the voluntary sector have a problem with the idea of power.  It makes us uneasy.  But I’m reliably told that there are more references to power in the Bible than to prayer.

What is power, other than, in Martin Luther King’s words “The ability to achieve a purpose…  It is the strength required to bring about social, political, and economic change.”

We like to focus more on loving our neighbours, than on wanting to claim or challenge power.  But again, Martin Luther King challenges us to think differently: “Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anaemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”

Transforming unjust structures is core to the mission of the church, but if we are serious about transforming the unjust structures then we have to be willing not just to speak truth to power, but to enable people to do so for themselves.

We need to talk more about race, class and poverty

One of the key insights of the past year is that we are not all in the same boat – and that poverty intersects with other social inequalities.  If we didn’t already know this, the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement have brought this home with greater sharpness. 

Black people are disproportionately affected by poverty, by low pay, by poor housing, by health inequalities. These are aspects of structural racism which impinge directly on peoples lives. 

We have not done enough in the anti-poverty movement, in the churches – and within Church Action on Poverty ourselves, to acknowledge this fact, and to ensure that the views, voices and experiences of black and brown people are visible, or heard in and through our work.

But equally, poverty intersects with inequalities in relation to social class, gender and disability.  The way we frequently talk about these are as if they were separate categories of experience, but in reality, they are complex and interlocking injustices and inequalities that exacerbate poverty for specific groups of people. 

We cannot hope to create solidarity by glossing over the differences. Rather, the challenge is to build solidarity among people by affirming their specific experiences.

What does this mean in terms of what we do?

None of these are abstract ideas. 

Too often, poverty is discussed in the abstract.  For Church Action on Poverty, this has never been our way.  For us, making change happen must always start at street level, at local level, by working with small groups of people to enable them to reclaim their own dignity, agency and power. 

Our vision for building a social movement is rooted in this approach – finding ways to enable groups of people to come together in ways which are transformative. 

To paraphrase Margaret Mead, that’s the only way that true and lasting change has ever come about.

So our vision for building a social movement is still rooted in building the capacity and skills of a network of local leaders – to equip people and communities to come together. 

I now want to share some examples of how we do this in different ways and at different levels, which I will describe for the purpose of this talk as community self-organising, organizing at town or city-wide level, speaking truth to power nationally, and congregational organizing – or becoming a Church on the Margins.

Community self-organising

We know change can happen when small groups come together. I want to outline two examples here.

Self-reliant groups

The most small scale level at which we promote organising is through Self Reliant groups. Taking inspiration from the ways in which some of the poorest people in India manage to survive and thrive, almost 10 years ago the Church of Scotland decided to see how working in groups could change communities for the better.

Following a visit to see the Self Reliant Groups movement in India, in 2011, a group of women came together as its first self-reliant group (SRG) and looked at how they could generate their own capital. Through small savings, they started a lunch club, raised money and eventually started their own laundry business.

Today there are almost 100 SRGs supported by Church Action on Poverty and four partner organisations in Scotland, England, Wales and the Netherlands each with its own achievements and stories.

Each group, typically of 6-8 women, meet and save together on a regular basis, and use their own skills of creativity, craft-making, cookery etc to produce and generate small amounts of money – effectively creating their own micro-businesses. This video explains how they work:

The social impact of SRGs for people who are very economically disadvantaged, mostly women, and from very diverse ethnic backgrounds are very powerful in terms of creating a strong social solidarity amongst their members, in which their own skills, ideas and creativity is affirmed, and through which they can become producers rather than just recipients, and collectively have control of small might seem amounts of money – maybe £200 or £300 – that they themselves have generated.

The links between SRG groups are also important, with regular local peer gatherings, and national gatherings (when possible), so that each small group feels strongly connected to other groups as part of a wider SRG movement.

Your Local Pantry

Pantry volunteers unpacking stock

Since 2017 we have been also working on a second approach to community-level organising, by growing a network of Local food pantries – social supermarkets – across the UK.

Each Pantry is hosted by a local community organisation – some are in high street shops, but increasing numbers are hosted by local churches, community centres, schools, even public Libraries

This work has expanded rapidly as a response to the Covid 19 pandemic.  We will shortly be welcoming the fiftieth Local Pantry into the network, and look forward to our ten thousandth member household. This video, filmed at two of the Edinburgh Pantries, explains a bit more about what makes them so effective:

What sets Local Pantries apart from the foodbanks which many churches have opened in recent years are that they are

  • Member-run: Pantries are run along co-operative lines, by and for their members, many of the volunteers who run the Pantry are members too. Members pay a small weekly fee, so have a genuine stake in their Local Pantry
  • Open to all: Membership is open to anyone local neighbourhood, with no requirement to be referred by a professional or other person.
  • Quality: Local Pantries are deliberately created with the look and feel of a little local shop, and with a strong emphasis on good quality food, including fresh fruit and vegetables, frozen and chilled food, including meat and dairy products, alongside the usual supplies of tins and packets that you would find in a foodbank.

We recently carried out a survey of the social impact of being a Pantry member and produced an impact report.  We gave this the title ‘Dignity, choice hope.’  This demonstrated that the impact of being a Pantry member extends far beyond simply access to food.  Every Pantry member is able to save at least £15 on their weekly food shop, which equates to an annual saving of up to £780 a year. Beyond this

In the midst of the dark times, the Your Local Pantry network, offers a beacon of hope, demonstrating that local communities can be at the forefront of developing practical and sustainable long-term responses to the current crisis. 

Re-oxygenating local democracy: organising at town or city level

I now want to turn to two examples of organising that enable groups of people struggling against poverty to engage directly with and exercise some agency and power in relation to Government and other public and private institutions that exercise significant power over their lives at town or city-wide level.

Poverty Truth Commissions

The Poverty Truth Commission is a unique way of developing new insights and initiatives to tackle poverty, developed in Glasgow ten years ago, and now being replicated in more than a dozen towns and cities across the UK. The key principle behind a Poverty Truth Commission is that decisions about poverty must involve people who directly face poverty:  Nothing About Us Without Us is For Us.

The Commission process is one of deep listening, relationship building, and shared reflection over a 12-18 month period between people with a direct experience of poverty and civic and business leaders within a town or city. 

Two years ago, I co-facilitated the Salford Poverty Truth Commission in Greater Manchester, which was sponsored by the Bishop of Salford and the Salford’s City Mayor, and which brought together 15 civic and business leaders with 15 people from across Salford who each had their own personal experience of and ‘truth’ about poverty to share.    

In preparing for the launch, the ‘grassroots’ Commissioners jointly produced a graphic map of the key issues and problems they experienced living in poverty in the City.  Slap bang in the middle of the map was an image of Salford Civic Centre.

Debbie Brown, who represented Salford City Council on the Commission, recalled her reaction to seeing this at the launch: “The thing that stopped me in my tracks was a picture of Salford Civic Centre – the City Council was identified as cause of poverty. I was devastated! I hadn’t expected to see that at all!”

As the Commissioners shared their stories over the coming months, what transpired was that several of the grassroots Commissioners had traumatic experiences of bailiffs arriving at their front door, sent by Salford Council with the power to seize and sell their property to repay their Council Tax debts.  One Commissioner told how a Council Tax debt of less than £100 had grown to over £1,000 once court charges and bailiffs fees had been added, putting her deeper into debt.  

As Debbie said, “We heard some real heartbreaking stories of hiding behind sofas and being afraid of what was going to happen: that was not the city I recognised and certainly not the Council I know”.

In response to this, the Poverty Truth Commission brought together several of the grassroots Commissioners with the head of Council Tax collection in Salford, who was ultimately responsible for sending the bailiffs in. At the workshop he carefully explained the process for sending out reminder letters to those who hadn’t paid their bills. 

Patrick, one of the grassroots Commissioners said “Yes, I remember those. They came in brown envelopes, and go straight into the draw.  I can’t open them.  I suffer from ‘brown envelope’ syndrome.”

The most shocking revelation from the workshop was that the first point of human contact that anyone would have in the process was the bailiff sent to your house to seize and sell your property.

Patrick’s reaction to this was the key to changing Council thinking.  “Back in the day, in Ireland, if I had any problems with the council, I would go and see Mrs Mack. That’s what we need to get back to.  Salford needs its very own Mrs Mack.”

This lead directly to significant changes to Salford’s debt collection process – including swapping brown envelopes for white envelopes. 

As Debbie now says: “…The City Council has changed a lot already, towards a more person centred approach – we now run coffee morning drop-in sessions for any Salford resident who wants to talk through any problems with Council Tax face to face – and we have stopped using bailiffs to collect Council Tax debts from people on low incomes.            


Through the Poverty Truth Commission, the collective wisdom and insights of a group of people sharing their own personal ‘truths’ about poverty has kicked started a process of culture change at Salford City Council, towards a much more human and people-centred approach to engaging with its citizens. 

“I am not naïvely thinking we can change the world overnight, but if anybody anywhere else needed motivation, just look at what we have achieved in Salford.” 

Participatory budgeting

I also want to briefly mention Participatory Budgeting: a process of participatory deliberation and decision-making over the allocation of ‘our’ public funds.

The idea was originated by the Brazilian People’s Party in the city of Porto Allegre in the 1980s. Church Action on Poverty, along with Oxfam, was responsible for introducing Participatory Budgeting to the UK. 

For more than ten years until 2012, Church Action on Poverty hosted a Participatory Budgeting Unit, and worked in partnership with central Government, to assist and advise more than 120 local Participatory Budgeting processes, in which local people directly decided how to spend pots of public funding ranging from a few thousand pounds up to tens of thousands of pounds. 

Our Peoples Budget campaign promoted the idea that all public bodies should allocate one percent of their funds using Participatory Budgeting.

The Scottish Government has now adopted this policy, which will eventually mean that £100 million of funds spent by local authorities across Scotland will be allocated directly according to the wishes and votes of local people. 

Speaking truth to power: organising nationally

Church Action on Poverty has been known for prioritising and amplifying the voices people in poverty nationally since the late 1990s. It is more authentic for people to speak their own truth to power than for church leaders, or me as a director of a charity, to speak on their behalf.

Over the years we have run high profile national campaigns on asylum, debt, Living Wages, tax avoidance but have focussed much of our work over the past six years on the subject of food poverty.

However, rather than focus on our campaigns, I would like to share the story of one young campaigner, who has been an inspiration to me over the past four years.

Tia Clarke, is a young activist from Blackburn in the North West of England, who has just turned 18, but was 15 when she first started her engagement with us. 

Tia and other members of her local child food poverty campaign group have been instrumental in the national #ENDCHILDFOODPOVERTYCAMPAIGN.

They are no strangers to campaigning as their involvement is a result of their own campaign in their home town of Blackburn. This campaign was based on experiences at their school where they and their friends living in food poverty often went without meals.

Their hunger led to a lack of concentration in the classroom and tempers flaring with teachers and classmates. With 40% of children growing up in food poverty in their local area, they could see where the system was failing them and set out to fix it.

In Tia’s own words

“Food poverty happens all around me. When you are hungry you get in a mood. Then you are in a mood all day and you just want food. To tackle food poverty schools should get more involved, they should look at pupils’ personal experiences and the Government should help as well.

“I became involved in the Blackburn with Darwen Food Alliance which is part of Church Action on Poverty’s Food Power programme in October 2017. Since then I have shared my own experience of food poverty both locally & nationally, and was one of a small group of young people who set up the #DarwengetsHangry Campaign.

In 2018 I became involved in the national Children’s Future Food Inquiry. This has involved speaking to MP’s in Westminster, appearing on Channel 4 News, as well as being featured in national newspapers.”

The #ENDCHILDFOOD POVERTY campaign has received national profile, and in the past nine months has twice forced Boris Johnston to U-turn and agree to provide Government funding for children who would normally receive free school meals, but who have not been able to do so because their schools were closed due to the pandemic. 

You can see Tia on Channel 4 News here:

One of the strengths of the campaign has been the power of the voices of people with personal experience of food poverty as children.  The most high profile has been Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford – who himself went hungry as a child – and whose petition was signed by more than one million people.  Alongside him Tia and other young campaigners with lived experience have been adding their voices to the campaign.

In September, Tia and others in the group met with Marcus Rashford to film a prime time BBC TV documentary, at our offices in Salford. In this, they discussed their own experiences of food poverty in Blackburn, the #DarwengetsHangry campaign and their demands of government as part of the #ENDCHILDFOODPOVERTY campaign.          

“It’s amazing that we finally have so many people behind us… I want to say thank you especially to Marcus for helping people understand what it’s like and put our voices even more out there for all these people who are now behind us and I’m so excited for what’s going to come next.”

Investing in becoming a church on the margins

Turning lastly to the question of ‘what has all this got to do with the task of being Church? Over recent years we have begun to explore more directly the challenge to the church of what it would mean to respond in practical and tangible ways to Pope Francis’ challenge to be or become a ‘Poor church of and for the poor.’

This has included producing an initial popular report setting out in clear terms the challenge to the churches, but also ways in which different denominations are already responding.

We have also started to bring together groups of people living and working in poorer neighbourhoods in Sheffield and Manchester to explore these questions for themselves.

Ultimately, however, this is a question for the churches at all levels – not just in poor neighbourhoods: As institutions that deploy hundreds of clergy and other staff and in many cases hold investments of tens or hundreds of millions of pounds.

“Not just a food bank for the poor, a debt advice project for the poor, a campaigning organisation for the poor… A church for the poor.”  Rev Al Barrett

Part of our inspiration for this work is the Church of Scotland, who more than ten years ago made a national commitment to say that Mission and Ministry in the ten percent poorest neighbourhoods in Scotland was THE Gospel priority. 

Since then they have allocated twice as much ministerial resource to Priority areas, and funded some of the most innovative anti-poverty initiatives in the country – including starting the first Self Reliant Groups and Poverty Truth Commission in the UK.

“Priority for the poorest and the most marginalised is the gospel imperative facing the whole Church, not just the Church in the poorest places.”

We are excited that partly as a result of our programme, in July 2020 the Methodist Church at national level committed to spend £8 million over the next 5 years on a ‘church at the margins’ programme to be invested in ministry in and led by marginalised communities themselves. We are starting to explore what it will mean to be a partner with them in this work over the coming years.

It is our aspiration that other denominations will follow the example of the Methodist Church and Church of Scotland in committing significant and long-term funding to investing in programmes which live out the Churches’ wider commitment to the poorest and most economically marginalised communities, as the Gospel priority, over the coming years.

I will finish with the words of Deacon Eunice Attwood, who has recently been appointed national Church at the Margins worker for the Methodist church:

Easter

Press release: Thousands join Your Local Pantry in response to pandemic

Your Local Pantry: A triumph of community resilience, offering dignity, choice and hope in a time of crisis

Dignity, Choice, Hope

Sheffield Church Action on Poverty Update, January 2021

SPARK newsletter winter 2021

Dignity, agency and power: a conversation

32,000 meals, and now a bold new food plan

12 inspiring anti-poverty stars & stories from 2020

Covid pulled us deep into debt. It’ll be years before we are free.

Church Action on Poverty in Sheffield: 2020 AGM

People in poverty must be heeded, not just heard

Being Interrupted: doorstep encounters

Thoughts on child hunger, privilege, and immunity against judgment

A child hunger U-turn would be in all our interests

A tale of two covid tests

Untitled – a poem from ‘Same Boat?’

Untitled #1 – a poem from ‘Same Boat?’

Same Boat film

Same Boat? Poems on poverty and lockdown

Untitled – a poem from ‘Same Boat?’

Nothing changes around here – a poem from ‘Same Boat?’

The price of conformity – a poem from ‘Same Boat?’

My Mask – a poem from ‘Same Boat?’

Reset The Debt – email your MP now

100 Days – a poem from ‘Same Boat?’

Poetry v poverty: anthology raises vital new voices

Church Action on Poverty North East annual report 2020

Sheffield Church Action on Poverty 2020 Pilgrimage

Planning a Lent programme for your church in 2021?

The Collective, Episode 2 – Community responses

Sheffield Poverty Update, September 2020

SPARK newsletter, autumn 2020

Book review: No Fixed Abode

3 key ways we will be challenging poverty this autumn: Join us

Church Action on Poverty North East 2020 AGM, 25 September

Let’s walk upon the water

A walk in the park

Look after each other

Are you a sun worshipper of follower?

We’re all going on a summer holiday

Food insecurity and social isolation in Sheffield

Love and unity in a UK food desert

Sheffield Poverty Update August 2020

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

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

1 city, 8 tales: sudden poverty & an outpouring of goodwill

Be in my Bubble

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

New wine, new wineskins part 3: What needs to change?

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

Invisible Divides

Inside Your Local Pantry in Peckham.

The compassion in these neighbourhood pantries is fantastic!

SPARK newsletter summer 2022

Invisible Divides

Inside Your Local Pantry in Peckham.

The compassion in these neighbourhood pantries is fantastic!

SPARK newsletter summer 2022

12 stories of hope for 2022 – and immediate actions you can take

The 2022 Dignity, Agency, Power photo calendar is packed with inspiring and uplifting people helping to loosen poverty's grip.

Copies are being sent to Church Action on Poverty’s supporters. If you’re not on our mailing list and would like to order copies, email us.

Here’s is a preview, showing the 12 featured stories. For each one, we also suggest a simple immediate step you can take, to help propel the movement to end poverty.

1. Meet Jayne & Shaun

Jayne Gosnall and Shaun Kelly

Jayne Gosnall and Shaun Kelly have inspired many others by
sharing their stories, poetry and creativity, including in the Same Boat? anthology and through the Self-Reliant Group movement.

Jayne was also part of Salford Poverty Truth Commission and has spoken up in the media about poverty.

She says: “One of the best things that has happened to me is getting involved in projects through Church Action on Poverty. It’s a great organisation and what I like is that they always try to get normal voices in there, which is really good.

“One of the things that happens with people in poverty is that their confidence and self-esteem are affected so it’s really important that people are encouraged to use their voice, even if they do not feel they have got one.”

  • Photo by Madeleine Penfold

2. All aboard for tax justice

The Tax Justice Bus in 2012

In 2012, Church Action on Poverty and Christian Aid took a double-decker Tax Justice Bus around the UK on a 53-day tour,
visiting 109 towns and cities.

Campaigners spoke to politicians, campaign groups, church leaders and the media, inspiring people to speak up and mobilising support.

This campaign and others paid off in summer 2021, when the G7 leaders agreed that multinational companies must pay at least 15% tax on profits in countries where they operate – a big step towards tax justice.

  • Photo by The Press newspaper in York.

3. A love letter to brave souls

Ellis Howard

To challenge poverty, it’s vital that people with direct experience are heard.

Ellis Howard, an actor-writer from Liverpool, ran workshops
with Church Action on Poverty in 2020, showing how people can
use their lived experiences and transform them into activism, using stories of struggle, hunger or poverty to build power and shape the future.

Ellis’ contribution to our Same Boat? poetry anthology on
poverty and lockdown was “a love letter to those brave souls who history continually tries to undermine, but we don’t let it.”

He says: “For so long these stories, these experiences, these lives have been completely undocumented. They haven’t been celebrated in a glorious nuanced way.”

  • Photo by Madeleine Penfold

4. A bold vision to end hunger

End Hunger UK campaigners

The End Hunger UK campaign, coordinated by Church Action
on Poverty from 2016 to 2020, brought together faith groups,
campaigners and charities, united by a bold vision of a country
where everyone has access to good food.

One of the brightest events was when the Food Glorious Food choir, formed in a Sheffield food bank, sang at the city’s Cathedral as part of a day of action.

There is a long way to go, but campaigning has helped ensure that the Government now properly monitors food poverty, and is funding a programme of food and activities which goes some way to tackling the growing problem of holiday hunger.

  • Photo by Alexandra Wallace

5. Food with dignity

Volunteers Christine Hoy and Karen Paterson at the Fresh Start Your Local Pantry in Edinburgh

The Your Local Pantry network safeguards food access without compromising on dignity.

The number of Pantries supported by Church Action on Poverty
has more than trebled in the past two years. Over 11,000 households are now members.

Pantries reduce costs, strengthen community, combat isolation and improve health and wellbeing. They are bustling triumphs of community, and can be the cornerstone for future progress.

Pictured are volunteers Christine Hoy and Karen Paterson, at the Fresh Start Pantry in Edinburgh.

  • Photo by Christopher Cook. 

6. Tackling Debt on our Doorstep

Debt On Our Doorstep campaigners in Westminster

For many years, ‘doorstep lenders’ and ‘rent-to-own’ companies
were a scourge on poor communities, charging exorbitant rates
to people who had nowhere else to turn.

We knew it would take a broad effort to bring change, so the Debt On Our Doorstep campaign brought together churches, credit unions, experts on debt and credit, and most importantly, people with personal experience of debt and high-cost lending.

This picture shows our ‘loan sharks’ demonstration outside Parliament. Campaigning paid off… Government regulators finally took action, introducing a cap on the cost of credit and other regulations which ultimately led to Wonga, Provident Financial and other lenders having to cease their exploitative practices.

  • Photo from Church Action on Poverty archives.

7. July

Stef Benstead

Stef Benstead knew first-hand how badly the UK was treating disabled people, and wasn’t willing to stay silent. Her book, Second Class Citizens, charted the way that disabled people’s rights had been breached and set out a vision for a better way.

Stef, a Church Action on Poverty trustee, was also part of Manchester Poverty Truth Commission, which has brought people in poverty and decision-makers together, to find solutions through their shared wisdom. 

8. August

The Pilgrimage Against Poverty in 1999

In August 1999, The Pilgrimage Against Poverty began on the Scottish island of Iona. Nine weeks later, with hundreds of walkers having taken part, it reached Westminster, where some of the Pilgrims met the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, setting out proposals to tackle poverty.

The Pilgrimage, organised by Church Action on Poverty, shone a light on poverty in the UK and pressed for change, mobilising and energising supporters as never before.

9. September

Monica Gregory

Monica Gregory, who works with homeless people in Oxford, has been speaking out as part of Church Action on Poverty and Sustain’s Food Power programme, and also took part in a Food Experiences panel work to understand food insecurity in the context of covid.

Monica found confidence through the work to speak up about poverty in Oxford, which is often hidden.

She says: “It doesn’t matter what people think of you, you know, as long as you believe in yourself and you love yourself. Just look in the mirror and tell yourself that you know that you love yourself and that you are worthy. Don’t ever give up.”

10. October

The Greater Manchester Big Poverty Conversation, as part of Challenge Poverty Week England and Wales

All over the UK, there are people whose experience of poverty has given them powerful insights into what could make a difference. Challenge Poverty Week each October amplifies voices that are too often drowned out and focuses on solutions.

If we harness our collective kindness, determination and wisdom, we can build the compassionate and just society that we all crave. 

You can sign up below to find out what’s happening in 2022, or to take part. challengepoverty.net in Scotland or challengepoverty.co.uk in England and Wales. 

11. November

Self Reliant Group

Great things can happen when people come together. Self-Reliant Groups are proof of that. Each group is run by and for its members, creating new freedom in their lives and alleviating many aspects of poverty such as marginalisation and a lack of power. Groups meet regularly, save together, make collective decisions and learn new skills together, with the potential to become a business.

Church Action on Poverty leads the growth of groups in the North West of England.

12. December

Participatory Budgeting

Local people know best what their community needs, so it is right that they should decide how money is spent in their town or city.

That idea ought not to sound radical, but in the early 2000s it was. The concept of participatory budgeting began in Brazil in the 1990s, and when a group from Salford visited ten years later, they brought the idea back to the UK, involving thousands of people in more than 200 areas.

Phil Teece, who led the work for Church Action on Poverty, says: “Citizens are as capable, or more capable, of making the decisions that will affect them most. That’s a very powerful message. It’s not about alleviating poverty per se, but it’s transferring power and giving people the confidence to engage. It makes a big difference to people who felt they had no power whatsoever.”

“You are worthy. Don’t ever give up.”

How can policy-makers and churches work together to tackle UK poverty?

How have Christians responded to poverty during austerity?

Reset The Debt in Parliament

Watch the Food Power story

How we can use poetry to accelerate social change

Activism, struggle and superpowers

Why does digital exclusion matter?

62% want action on income inequality. So, what do we do?

Wayne’s story: Why I (and you) must refuse to be invisible

SPARK newsletter, summer 2021

Building Dignity, Agency and Power Together

What I’ve learnt as an anti-poverty activist

Sheffield Church Action on Poverty Update, May 2021

Listening…

How should we talk about poverty in the 2020s?

What’s the best way to reduce the stigma of food poverty?

Food insecurity: now we have the data, it’s time to act

Hold the moment

Why did I write Second Class Citizens and what can we learn?

David Goodbourn Lecture 2021 – register now

A week that changed everything….

‘Life on the Breadline’ announces their End of Project Conference, 24-25th June 2021

Look up child

The Final Push

Sheffield Church Action on Poverty Update, March 2021

International Women’s Day – Sheroes

How do you build dignity & power with people new to the UK?

Right-wing and Left-wing Christian Approaches to Poverty

Speaking of poverty, differently

7 ways a Your Local Pantry could help YOUR neighbourhood

2021 stories: how friends are striking a chord for justice and unity

Annual review 2019–20

Easter

Press release: Thousands join Your Local Pantry in response to pandemic

Your Local Pantry: A triumph of community resilience, offering dignity, choice and hope in a time of crisis

Dignity, Choice, Hope

Sheffield Church Action on Poverty Update, January 2021

SPARK newsletter winter 2021

Invisible Divides

Inside Your Local Pantry in Peckham.

The compassion in these neighbourhood pantries is fantastic!

SPARK newsletter summer 2022

How Thrive took control of the agenda in 2021

Thrive Teesside have had a remarkable year. They recount why, in our final calendar story of 2021.

It has certainly been a year like no other. Notwithstanding the continuous challenges facing our community, we have worked tirelessly to seek out opportunities to amplify the many voices that otherwise would have been silenced.
Three members of Thrive Teesside, including blog author Tracey Herrington

What does listening actually mean?

Taking control of the agenda and speaking out about the issues that have been important to our community has been our driving force. 

The areas of work Thrive has embarked upon include:

  • Meaningfully addressing the digital divide, and
  • Thinking about the impact debt deductions from benefits are having on below par incomes.

We put our head above the parapet and reached out to non-traditional partners to develop relationships, accepting that, on our own, it would be difficult to effect positive change.

We were keen to merge our unique area of expertise and this year, as part of Thrive’s national work with Poverty2Solutions, we attended the Conservative Party Conference and stimulated a discussion around what listening to left behind communities actually means and could look like.

Thrive: working on solutions, not slogans

This year we also began our Thriving Women workshops, they were so welcomed after some difficult times and coming out of lockdown, finally we could get together in person. The workshops have definitive aims – to empower those who are powerless and to produce a body of work that reflects their lived experience of that.

We have a diverse group of women, some new to writing and some with a little experience, but all with a passion to have their voice heard on some of the issues faced on a personal level and within their community, we have explored “living in poverty, where we live, community and active citizenship, our right to reply, to whom it may concern, our Manifesto, Levelling up- solutions not slogans, and collective voices.

Thrive: inspirational and transformative

Thrive have continued to be inspirational and transformative, ensuring local people are the driving force behind all that they do.
Thrive on their awards night

Thrive Teesside was crowned winner of the Outstanding Contribution to Social Change category at this year’s North East Charity Awards and this was hugely rewarding.

It is often quite difficult to keep motivated when constantly faced with challenges. The Thrive community are deserving of this recognition and it is humbling to witness their tenacity, dedication and determination to effect change.

Thrive member Corrina Eastwood says: “It was amazing to be shortlisted and then win this award. I’m inspired for the opportunities ahead and excited for the future of Thrive.”

As an innovator of change, Thrive is proud to keep Teesside on the map.

Thrive award photo
  • Thrive Teesside feature on the December page of Church Action on Poverty’s 2021 Dignity, Agency, Power calendar. 

What does the cost of living crisis mean for people in poverty?

Holding the church to account

On the road: recalling the time we took a bus all round Britain

SPARK newsletter winter 2021–22

6 ways we can build dignity, agency & power amid the cost of living crisis

Hope story 1: tenacity and change in Salford

12 stories of hope for 2022 – and immediate actions you can take

How Thrive took control of the agenda in 2021

Annual review 2020–21

2021 conference: watch the recordings

Long read: How do we build dignity, agency & power together?

What happened when Manchester sat down to talk about poverty…

Invisible Divides

Inside Your Local Pantry in Peckham.

The compassion in these neighbourhood pantries is fantastic!

SPARK newsletter summer 2022

Sheffield Pilgrimage: pandemic boosts community spirit, but leaves physical and mental scars

Our local group in Sheffield report on their latest annual Pilgrimage.

Pilgrims about to set off on the 2021 Church Action on Poverty annual Pilgrimage from the Church of Christ, Darnall, Sheffield.

More than 20 members of various churches across Sheffield came together to take part in the annual Sheffield Church Action on Poverty Pilgrimage, which raises awareness and understanding of how poverty is affecting people in different parts of Sheffield.

This year, our local group in Sheffield staged a three-mile circular walk, focusing on Darnall.

People attending the Pilgrimage heard about the challenges to mental, physical and financial wellbeing in Darnall posed by the Covid pandemic and lockdown, the various initiatives trying to overcome those problems, and the challenges they had faced.

They also heard from local councillor Zahira Naz about the particular problems facing families from ethnic minorities in Darnall, who had faced unfair accusations of failing to isolate and self-distance during the pandemic.

Councillor Naz said the reality was that many ethnic minority families had several generations living in the same household.

Vulnerable grandparents shared houses with family members working in occupations, including the health services, where they could be exposed to Covid as well as grandchildren who were still going to school.

To make matters worse, many families traditionally had one breadwinner, and for those working in shops, takeaways, restaurants, taxi firms and a number of other occupations, there was often no financial support.

Councillor Naz spoke of efforts she was involved with to source food, and in particular Asian food, for people in financial difficulty, which expanded into providing activity packs to keep children amused and toiletries when they were in short supply.

She said the one good thing to come out of the experience was the community cohesion it created:

“The community came together – churches, mosques, local organisations – and between us we formed relationships. None of us could have done this by ourselves, but between us with that passion to support people in our communities to make sure nobody went hungry brought us all together.”

Pilgrims heard about the work of the Church of Christ, including its role as a ‘Partner Hub’ for Food Works, the Sheffield-based social enterprise that collects surplus food that would otherwise go to landfill.

The not-for-profit organisation distributes the food it collects in boxes and as cooked meals for the vulnerable, the lonely and care workers who haven’t time to cook and started producing frozen food during the lockdowns.

They also heard about the work of the Living Waters Food Bank and the Church of England and Church Army Attercliffe and Darnall Centre of Mission.

Revd Gina Kalsi and her husband Kinder, a captain in the Church Army, arrived to lead the Mission at the start of the first Covid lockdown.

Tackling food poverty and isolation became one of their major activities as they found a number of socially distanced ways to connect with the community.

When a local bakery offered them its unsold fresh bread and cakes, they began delivering it to local people in need.

Gina Kalsi says once social distancing eased the time needed for deliveries went from one hour to a full afternoon as people, desperate for human contact, invited them in for a chat. What started as a chat rapidly turned into ad-hoc support sessions as people started asking them for help, including with completing forms.

Dr Jack Czauderna, a driving force behind Darnall Well Being and the Darnall Allotment Project, talks to Pilgrims on the 2021 Church Action on Poverty annual Pilgrimage.

Pilgrims visited the Darnall Allotment Project, an initiative established by Darnall Well Being, a not-for-profit, health organisation working to help the people of Darnall, Tinsley and neighbouring areas stay well.

There they learnt that the allotment’s contribution to wellbeing extended beyond providing somewhere where people could improve their physical and mental health by working in the allotment, growing fruit and vegetables.

It is home to an art project which, among other things, helps people with dementia, it organises visits for schools and activities for children who were being home-schooled as a result of the pandemic and also runs courses ranging from hedge laying and composting to making table decorations for Christmas.

Church Action on Poverty Sheffield Pilgrimage leader David Price helps to prepare the ground at the Darnall Allotment Project for a Red Heart Apple tree to be planted, watched by the allotment's Sarah Emberson and allotment regular 'Cookie'.

The Pilgrims also heard about the work of Impact Living, an organisation that provides supported housing in Darnall for around 25 vulnerable young people who may have mental, physical or financial problems or learning difficulties.

In addition to providing housing, the organisation provides therapy and helps them overcome their problems, where possible, including help with budgeting and ensuring no one goes hungry while repaying their debts.

Impact Living also helps the young people to engage in the community, and recently launched a project with Sheffield United Football Club, which is helping them build their self-esteem and learn about healthy living while learning football skills.

12 stories of hope for 2022 – and immediate actions you can take

How Thrive took control of the agenda in 2021

Annual review 2020–21

2021 conference: watch the recordings

Long read: How do we build dignity, agency & power together?

What happened when Manchester sat down to talk about poverty…

Sheffield Pilgrimage: pandemic boosts community spirit, but leaves physical and mental scars

How grassroots films change views of poverty

13th Sheffield Pilgrimage, 2021

Listen up to level up: why we must rebuild together

Growing crops & community amid the pandemic

“All it needs is people willing to listen”

1,000+ church leaders say: Don’t cut Universal Credit

SPARK newsletter autumn 2021

Lent course for 2022: Life on the Breadline

Our Cookery Book

Keep the Lifeline – sign our open letter to the Prime Minister

Seeking food justice in York

Invisible Divides

Inside Your Local Pantry in Peckham.

The compassion in these neighbourhood pantries is fantastic!

SPARK newsletter summer 2022

What happened when Manchester sat down to talk about poverty…

There were ideas and determination aplenty at the Greater Manchester Big Poverty Conversation

One of the highlights of Challenge Poverty Week England & Wales took place on the opening day of the week, when about 100 people attended the Greater Manchester Big Poverty Conversation.

People with direct of experience shared their insights and expertise with local civic leaders and campaigners, and there was in-depth discussion about what needs to change locally. 

If you missed it, here are some photos and highlights.

Here’s what Nadine from Manchester Poverty Truth Commission had to say.  

Here’s Sasha Deepwell from Irwell Valley Homes:
Here’s Cllr Arooj Shah, leader of Oldham Council:

And here’s Ed Seeger from Tameside Poverty Truth Commission:

Message from the Mayor of Greater Manchester

The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, was unable to attend but recorded a video for the audience, including this message:

Photos from the Greater Manchester Big Poverty Conversation

Attendees at the Greater Manchester Big Poverty Conversation listen to one of the speakers on stage.
Attendees at the Greater Manchester Big Poverty Conversation
Attendees at the Greater Manchester Big Poverty Conversation listen to one of the speakers on stage.
Attendees at the Greater Manchester Big Poverty Conversation discuss issues around their table
Central Hall in Manchester, where the Greater Manchester Big Poverty Conversation was held
An attendee at the Greater Manchester Big Poverty Conversation listens as a speaker addresses the event from the stage
Cllr Arooj Shah, leader of Oldham Council, addresses the Greater Manchester Big Poverty Conversation
Sasha Deepwell of Irwell Valley Homes addresses the Greater Manchester Big Poverty Conversation
Greater Manchester Big Poverty Conversation
Greater Manchester Big Poverty Conversation
Greater Manchester Big Poverty Conversation

Listen up to level up: why we must rebuild together

Growing crops & community amid the pandemic

“All it needs is people willing to listen”

1,000+ church leaders say: Don’t cut Universal Credit

SPARK newsletter autumn 2021

Lent course for 2022: Life on the Breadline

Our Cookery Book

Keep the Lifeline – sign our open letter to the Prime Minister

Seeking food justice in York

Jayne and Shaun’s story: creativity, self-reliance and truth

Sign the Anti-Poverty Charter!

The story of a Cornish food and community revolution

“You are worthy. Don’t ever give up.”

How can policy-makers and churches work together to tackle UK poverty?

How have Christians responded to poverty during austerity?

Reset The Debt in Parliament

Watch the Food Power story

How we can use poetry to accelerate social change

Activism, struggle and superpowers

Why does digital exclusion matter?

62% want action on income inequality. So, what do we do?

Wayne’s story: Why I (and you) must refuse to be invisible

SPARK newsletter, summer 2021

Building Dignity, Agency and Power Together

What I’ve learnt as an anti-poverty activist

Sheffield Church Action on Poverty Update, May 2021

Listening…

Invisible Divides

Inside Your Local Pantry in Peckham.

The compassion in these neighbourhood pantries is fantastic!

SPARK newsletter summer 2022

13th Sheffield Pilgrimage, 2021

Our local group in Sheffield invite you to join them for this event as part of Challenge Poverty Week:

Saturday 16 October 2021

Gather: 9:00am, Church of Christ in Darnall, Station Road, S9 4JT for a 9:30am start

Visit: Darnall Well Being, High Hazels Park and Allotments, Attercliffe and Darnall Mission, Galeed House, Darnall Family Centre.

End: Around 3:00pm

Length: 3 miles

Hear about local issues and responses to them as we walk and pray together:

  • The community work of the Church of Christ in Darnall.
  • Darnall Well Being’s drive to eliminate health inequalities and the Allotment Project’s contribution to community cohesion.
  • Attercliffe and Darnall Mission’s bid to engage with young people and families to build a Christian community from scratch.
  • Assistance provided for young, single, vulnerable, homeless people.
  • Galeed House’s drive to help people from different backgrounds and cultures build trust and friendship and learn new skills.

Practicalities

  • The 52 and 52a buses connect Darnall with the city centre, Walkley, Broomhill, Attercliffe and Handworth and some go as far as Worral, Loxley, Wisewood and Woodhouse. Closest bus stops to the Church of Christ are on Staniforth Road.
  • Some trains from Sheffield Station to Lincoln also stop at Darnall.
  • If coming by car, allow extra time for parking. Church of Christ’s car park has insufficient space for pilgrims and the public car park on Station Road is currently closed. Parking on single yellow lines on Station Road is banned and the nearby Prince of Wales Road Car Park has a three-hour limit. You may park on stretches of Darnall Road where parking is permitted on Single Yellow Lines on Saturdays or on side roads.
  • Please bring a mask, as some of the venues may require one to be worn, also wear suitable shoes and bring a waterproof, drinking water and a packed lunch.
  • Please follow stewards’ advice, particularly at road crossings.
  • Walkers take part at their own risk and anyone under 18 must walk with a responsible adult.
  • The event is not suitable for dogs as we enter premises.

Come and be open to be challenged and changed by what you see and hear

For more information or to register to attend, contact Briony Broome on briony.broome@hotmail.co.uk or 07801 532 954.

SPARK newsletter summer 2022

Cost of living crisis: 6 useful church responses

What is the Right To Food?

Hope story: a united stand against hunger

Vacancy: Speaking Truth to Power Development Coordinator

How we ensure struggles are not ignored

Invisible Divides

Inside Your Local Pantry in Peckham.

The compassion in these neighbourhood pantries is fantastic!

SPARK newsletter summer 2022

Keep the Lifeline – sign our open letter to the Prime Minister

At the beginning of October, the Government plans to cut Universal Credit by £20 a week, reducing the already precarious incomes of families across the UK. Church Action on Poverty and Christians Against Poverty invite church leaders to sign our joint open letter to the Prime Minister, standing together to highlight our concerns about the impact the cut would have on people in our churches and communities.

Dear Prime Minister,

We stand together as church leaders from across the UK to urge you to think again about cutting Universal Credit payments by £20 a week from the start of October.

If the Government persists with this cut, it would be the single biggest overnight reduction in the basic rate of social security since the welfare state was established in the 1940s. Millions of low-income households will be swept further into poverty as a result.

As Christians, we are compelled by the gospel imperative to prioritise the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable.

As church leaders, we must speak up, because of the impact this will have on our poorest neighbours and church members.

We urge the Government to choose to build a just and compassionate social security system that our whole society can have confidence in.

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, poorer people in communities all over the country were suffering because the lifelines they needed from our social security system and vital neighbourhood services were not strong enough. Analysis by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has shown that the cut will particularly hit the north of England, the West Midlands, Wales and Northern Ireland. Rather than levelling up the UK, this will compound existing inequalities.

The loss of £1,040 a year will be devastating for many families at a time when energy bills and other household costs are increasing. Instead we can make sure our social security system brings stability, and opens up options and opportunities for people whose income is too low or insecure to make ends meet.

The cut has already been opposed by community groups up and down the country, charities, six former Conservative Work and Pensions Secretaries, and many MPs from all parties. This is an opportunity for the Government to send a message that it listens, and recognises the pressure faced by those on the breadline.

Universal Credit has been a vital lifeline throughout the pandemic. For the sake of millions of families, it must be retained at its current level, and we therefore reiterate the calls for the planned £20 a week cut to be withdrawn.

If you are a church leader, please add your name by following the link below. If you are not a church leader yourself, please ask the leader(s) in your church to sign.

This is a joint initiative between Church Action on Poverty and the debt advice charity Christians Against Poverty.

SPARK newsletter summer 2022

Cost of living crisis: 6 useful church responses

What is the Right To Food?

Hope story: a united stand against hunger

Vacancy: Speaking Truth to Power Development Coordinator

How we ensure struggles are not ignored

Invisible Divides

Inside Your Local Pantry in Peckham.

The compassion in these neighbourhood pantries is fantastic!

SPARK newsletter summer 2022

Seeking food justice in York

It’s not enough to hand out food, if the broken systems are allowed to continue.

Two people who know that well are Mary Passeri and Sydnie Corley, co-chairs of York Food Justice Alliance and tenacious campaigners against the causes of poverty.

York artists Sydnie Corley and Mary Passeri, who run the York Food Justice Alliance at SPARK in Piccadilly, York. Picture by David Harrison.
Sydnie Corley and Mary Passeri, co-chairs of the York Food Justice Alliance. The duo are both artists, and are pictured in their old studio. Photo by David Harrison.

Mary and Sydnie feature on the September page of our 2021 Dignity, Agency, Power calendar, in recognition of the work they do across York and beyond.

Before covid, the alliance existed to coordinate all the different food aid projects around York and to speak up about what was causing hunger in the first place. A report was sent to the city council and Mary and Sydnie joined in others in producing this short film, focusing on hunger in the school holidays:

The duo also ran their own project, a zero-waste food stall, which helped many people get by day-to-day. But they both believe passionately in the need for a long-term focus. “We need to look for an exit strategy,” says Sydnie. “We need to look at how we can end the need for having food banks.”

Sydnie Corley, co-chair of York Food Justice Alliance. Photo by David Harrison.

Speaking up and sharing insights

To that end, they have spoken up in local and national media, sharing their insights on Radio York, BBC 5 Live, the Six O’Clock News on TV, and in The Yorkshire Post. 

They also helped to write the 2020 Reporting Poverty guide and addressed a room full of journalists, on the need for more first-hand and less stigmatising journalism.

Mary said then: “We’ve done media work because we want to challenge preconceptions. People have ideas about single parents or people on disability benefits or whatever, and we wanted to challenge the stigma and stereotypes.”

Mary Passeri, co-chair of York Food Justice Alliance. Photo by David Harrison.

Vision of a better society

This year, they have also been involved in the Covid Realities initiative, and the Food Experiences During Covid-19 research project, both of which aim to help ensure lasting change, as the country rebuilds after covid. 

People with experience of poverty know better than anyone what needs to change, and why. Those are the voices that must be heard most loudly.

More 2021 Dignity, Agency, Power stories

SPARK newsletter winter 2021–22

6 ways we can build dignity, agency & power amid the cost of living crisis

Hope story 1: tenacity and change in Salford

12 stories of hope for 2022 – and immediate actions you can take

How Thrive took control of the agenda in 2021

Annual review 2020–21

2021 conference: watch the recordings

Long read: How do we build dignity, agency & power together?

What happened when Manchester sat down to talk about poverty…

Sheffield Pilgrimage: pandemic boosts community spirit, but leaves physical and mental scars

How grassroots films change views of poverty

13th Sheffield Pilgrimage, 2021

Listen up to level up: why we must rebuild together

Growing crops & community amid the pandemic

“All it needs is people willing to listen”

Invisible Divides

Inside Your Local Pantry in Peckham.

The compassion in these neighbourhood pantries is fantastic!

SPARK newsletter summer 2022

Sign the Anti-Poverty Charter!

We are pleased to share with you the Anti-Poverty Charter developed by our partners at the 'Life on the Breadline' research programme. Please read, share and sign!

The launch of the Anti-Poverty Charter at the end of project conference. Credit: Katie Chappell

What is the Anti-Poverty Charter?

A reflective action-oriented resource intended to help churches to tackle poverty and inequality in your neighbourhood and across the UK in a way that makes sense where you are.

How was the Charter made?

Developed through Life on the Breadline’s three years of research and conversations with national and regional Church leaders, local Christians and people experiencing life on a low-income.

Why have an Anti-Poverty Charter?

To help local churches and individual Christians to understand the unequal impact of austerity, the causes of poverty, support people in immediate need and challenge structural injustice.

This blog was originally posted on the Life on the Breadline website.

Making the Economy work for Everyone

SPARK newsletter summer 2022

Cost of living crisis: 6 useful church responses

What is the Right To Food?

Hope story: a united stand against hunger

Invisible Divides

Inside Your Local Pantry in Peckham.

The compassion in these neighbourhood pantries is fantastic!

SPARK newsletter summer 2022