News release: Hundreds of community church leaders join call on UK Churches to speak truth to power

Over 350 ministers and other leaders of local churches across all the main Christian denominations have signed an open letter to the UK’s Churches, calling on them to ensure that "the deepening crisis of UK poverty is at the centre of national attention."  It calls on the Churches to "redouble our efforts not just to alleviate the symptoms of poverty, but to call out the root causes, systems and structures which ensnare so many in poverty today.” 

 

The open letter states that: “Above all, as Churches we are compelled to speak truth to power,  with and alongside those whose voices are consistently ignored by those in power in corporate, media and public life. Poverty and gross inequality are not acts of God but structural defects that can be corrected. Speaking truth to power is a task for the whole Church, and one given greater urgency now, amid political debates that continue to expose the divisions within society.” 

The letter has been coordinated by Church Action on Poverty and signed by local church leaders across the UK. Niall Cooper, director of the charity, said today: “The church must hear the cry of the poor and act. It must step alongside those who have been swept into poverty and work with them to challenge the systems that pull people down. Many churches are doing wonderful work in their own neighbourhoods, but we need such action everywhere, and national leaders must prioritise that. We thank everyone who has signed this letter, and hope it begins a sea-change in the priorities of the church as a whole.” 

This Sunday (23 February) is Church Action on Poverty Sunday, and many of the signatories will read the letter aloud in their services. Part of the letter says: “At local level, we commit to becoming genuinely part of a ‘church at the margins’ where those on the margins of society feel welcomed, where their God-given dignity is recognised, and where their talents, hopes and visions for the future are celebrated and affirmed. At national level, we call on our church institutions to commit to the task of becoming a true church at the margins and to properly resource this, as a genuine expression of the gospel priority for the poorest and most vulnerable.”

Revd Andy Delmege, an Anglican vicar and director of the National Estate Churches Network, is one of the signatories. He said: “I have signed this letter because it is more vital than ever that our churches prioritise communities that are being ignored, pushed aside and left behind. We must ensure that every  community can flourish, bringing God’s love and hope to those in need.”  

Revd Adam Maynard, vicar of St George’s Everton, said: “I signed this letter because the causes, impacts and reality of poverty in the UK are not interrogated consistently in our society or in our churches.  As those who worship and seek to follow the one who emptied himself for sake of the world – we owe it to our Saviour to move beyond two-dimensional ideas about poverty and to seek to challenge and engage with the reality of it in thought, word and action.”

Martin Green, a trustee of Church Action on Poverty who himself has experienced food poverty, said: “I believe that churches as well as Government could do more to address poverty. They need to stand up and say they are supporting those who are trying to end poverty, and not hide. Churches are often good at helping people when they are on the street, but they need to challenge the poverty that has put people on the street in the first place. With more church support, other people would also listen more to people in poverty.”

Church Action on Poverty invites more local church leaders to add their names. 

News release: Hundreds of community church leaders join call on UK Churches to speak truth to power

Vacancy: Chair of Trustees

Speaking Truth to Power: North East event for Church Action on Poverty Sunday 2020

Make like Moses

News release: Smethwick gets its first Your Local Pantry, to help tackle food poverty

SPARK newsletter winter 2020

Life on the Breadline: PhD opportunity

Scripture from the Margins: Bible bookmark

Scripture from the Margins: Untold Stories

A decade of action on poverty

Vacancy: Chair of Trustees

Speaking Truth to Power: North East event for Church Action on Poverty Sunday 2020

Make like Moses

News release: Smethwick gets its first Your Local Pantry, to help tackle food poverty

People in Smethwick will be able to save on their weekly shopping bills, thanks to a new project that officially opens today, 21 January.

Smethwick CAN has set up the Smethwick pantry, to be run and used by local people, at Smethwick Library.

The project is the latest in the growing Your Local Pantry network nationally, and the third in the Midlands.

Pantries are membership-based food clubs that enable people to access food at a small fraction of its usual supermarket price, improving household food security and freeing up more money for other essential household costs such as rent and utilities. The weekly fee at Smethwick is £4.00, for which members will be able to choose ten items, with a total value in excess of £20.

Membership opened in October and has already exceeded the initial target. Organisers hoped to have 100 members within six months but hit that in a week and are now nearing 150.

Christina Murray, the Food Hub Manager for Smethwick CAN, said: 

“Smethwick Pantry has been a great success, providing good quality food to local people struggling to make ends meet.

“This is the first Pantry in the country to be based in a library. This has been a great benefit to both the library and the pantry. Footfall into the library has increased and the location for the pantry is ideal as it is directly on the main high street with easy access to public transport.  We have formed an excellent working relationship with the library staff who have all been very supportive of the pantry.”

One of Smethwick Pantry’s customers, who visits every week, has said it is a real lifeline for her and her family. She enjoys visiting the pantry as the volunteers are friendly and make her feel welcome.  It’s nicer than visiting a food bank because she can choose the food herself and pay towards the cost rather than be given a hand out.

Pantries are sustainable, long-term, community-led solutions that can loosen the grip of food poverty in a particular neighbourhood. They can be part of a progressive journey to help people move beyond foodbank use, or can help reduce a family’s need for a foodbank.

They provide members with more choice over the food they get than is possible at food banks, and are controlled by the members, strengthening the community’s ability to prevent food poverty or to progress out of food crisis.

Pantries source their food from a variety of sources, such as supermarket surplus via food recycling charity Fareshare, and by developing relationships with local food businesses who offer surplus food, which helps to reduce food waste and puts savings in the hands of people who are struggling to cover their weekly outgoings, potentially creating a virtuous circle.

Stockport Homes and the charity Church Action on Poverty are supporting the roll-out of pantries across the UK, under the banner of Your Local Pantry, after initial projects in Stockport were shown to have brought social, financial and health benefits including reducing isolation, averting food poverty and improving local people’s mental health. An impact report last year found pantry members had saved £650 a year on average on their shopping bills, and that every £1 invested in pantries generated £6 in social value.

Niall Cooper, director of Church Action on Poverty, said: “We know the Pantry model brings many benefits to communities up and down the country, helping to loosen the grip of poverty. They nurture community, alleviate isolation and reduce people’s food bills, to ease the pressure. It’s fantastic to see the first library-based pantry opening, showing the diversity and flexibility of the project.”

Anybody interested in setting up a Your Local Pantry in their community is invited to email gillian@church-poverty.org.uk

News release: Hundreds of community church leaders join call on UK Churches to speak truth to power

Vacancy: Chair of Trustees

Speaking Truth to Power: North East event for Church Action on Poverty Sunday 2020

Make like Moses

News release: Smethwick gets its first Your Local Pantry, to help tackle food poverty

SPARK newsletter winter 2020

Life on the Breadline: PhD opportunity

Scripture from the Margins: Bible bookmark

Scripture from the Margins: Untold Stories

Vacancy: Chair of Trustees

Speaking Truth to Power: North East event for Church Action on Poverty Sunday 2020

Make like Moses

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

People in Cardiff will be able to save on their weekly shopping bills, thanks to a new project that opens this week.

ACE (Action in Caerau & Ely) has set up the Dusty Forge Pantry, to be run and used by local people, at its base in west Cardiff. It will be officially launched at ACE’s open day on Wednesday 3 July 3.

The project is the latest in the growing Your Local Pantry network, and the network’s first in Wales.

Pantries are membership-based food clubs that enable people to access food at a small fraction of its usual supermarket price, improving household food security and freeing up more money for other essential household costs such as rent and utilities. The weekly fee at Dusty Forge is £5 for which members will be able to choose ten items, with a total value of around £20.

So far, 50 members have signed up, and the charity plans for that to increase to 150 by the end of this year.

Sam Froud-Powell, community support coordinator at ACE, said: “We are really excited to be launching the Your Local Pantry at the Dusty Forge community centre. The pantry provides members with good quality food, including fresh produce, for an affordable membership fee. This helps local families struggling with food costs to eat more healthily and expand the range of food in their weekly shop.”

Pantries are sustainable, long-term, community-led solutions that can loosen the grip of food poverty in a particular neighbourhood. They can be part of a progressive journey to help people move beyond food bank use, or can help reduce a family’s need for a food bank.

They provide members with more choice over the food they get than is possible at food banks, and are controlled by the members, strengthening the community’s ability to prevent food poverty or to progress out of food crisis.

Pantries source their food from a variety of sources, such as supermarket surplus via food recycling charity Fareshare, and by developing relationships with local food businesses who offer surplus food, which helps to reduce food waste and puts savings in the hands of people who are struggling to cover their weekly outgoings, potentially creating a virtuous circle.

Stockport Homes and the charity Church Action on Poverty are supporting the roll-out of pantries across the UK, under the banner of Your Local Pantry, after initial projects in Stockport were shown to have brought social, financial and health benefits including reducing isolation, averting food poverty and improving local people’s mental health. An impact report last year found pantry members had saved £650 a year on average on their shopping bills, and that every £1 invested in pantries generated £6 in social value.

Niall Cooper, director of Church Action on Poverty, said: “Pantries are a great way for local people to come together, strengthen their community and loosen the grip of high prices. Rising living costs and stagnating incomes have made life increasingly difficult for many people, but pantries provide immediate, visible support that can protect people from being swept into poverty.”

Anybody interested in setting up a Your Local Pantry in their community is invited to email gillian@church-poverty.org.uk

ENDS

News release: Hundreds of community church leaders join call on UK Churches to speak truth to power

Vacancy: Chair of Trustees

Speaking Truth to Power: North East event for Church Action on Poverty Sunday 2020

Make like Moses

News release: Smethwick gets its first Your Local Pantry, to help tackle food poverty

SPARK newsletter winter 2020

Life on the Breadline: PhD opportunity

Scripture from the Margins: Bible bookmark

Scripture from the Margins: Untold Stories

Vacancy: Chair of Trustees

Speaking Truth to Power: North East event for Church Action on Poverty Sunday 2020

Make like Moses

Press release: Community Pantry opens in Preston to help tackle food poverty

People in Preston will be able to save on their weekly shopping bills, thanks to a new project that opens this week.

The Intact Centre in Whitby Avenue, Ingol, has converted its food project into a community pantry, to be run and used by local people. It will be called Whitby’s Pantry and will be officially launched at an event on Wednesday 19 June.

The project is the latest in the growing Your Local Pantry network.

Pantries are membership-based food clubs that enable people to access food at a small fraction of its usual supermarket price. The Intact Centre’s weekly fee is £3.50 for which members will be able to access approximately £25.00 worth of food, improving household food security and freeing up more money for other essential household costs such as rent and utilities.

So far, 25 members have signed up, and the charity’s chief executive, Denise Hartley MBE, expects that to rise over the coming months.

She said: “Intact has been operating a ‘Community Supermarket’, a local food club, where Fare Share food is bagged up by staff and volunteers. This club has proven to be very popular and over the last two years around 200 members have accessed the food project 1,821 times. We have about 25 regulars that attend each week and we are hoping to be able to increase this to around 40 to 50”

Pantries are sustainable, long-term, community-led solutions that can loosen the grip of food poverty in a particular neighbourhood. They can be part of a progressive journey to help people move beyond foodbank use, or can help reduce a family’s need for a foodbank.

Intact’s ‘Community Supermarket’ has provided a valuable service for the past two years, but the pantry approach gives members more choice over the food they get, and more control, strengthening the community’s ability to prevent food poverty or to progress out of food crisis.

Pantries source their food from a variety of sources, such as supermarket surplus via food recycling charity Fareshare, and by developing relationships with local food businesses who offer surplus food, which helps to reduce food waste and puts savings in the hands of people who are struggling to cover their weekly outgoings. This is potentially a virtuous circle.

Stockport Homes and the charity Church Action on Poverty are supporting the roll-out of pantries across the UK, under the banner of Your Local Pantry, after initial projects in Stockport were shown to have brought social, financial and health benefits including reducing isolation, averting food poverty and improving local people’s mental health. An impact report last year found pantry members had saved £650 a year on average on their shopping bills, and that every £1 invested in pantries generated £6 in social value.

Niall Cooper, director of Church Action on Poverty, said: “Pantries are a great way for local people to come together, strengthen their community and loosen the grip of high prices. Rising living costs and stagnating incomes have made life increasingly difficult for many people, but pantries provide immediate, visible support that can protect people from being swept into poverty.”

Anybody interested in setting up a Your Local Pantry in their community is invited to email gillian@church-poverty.org.uk

News release: Hundreds of community church leaders join call on UK Churches to speak truth to power

Vacancy: Chair of Trustees

Speaking Truth to Power: North East event for Church Action on Poverty Sunday 2020

Make like Moses

News release: Smethwick gets its first Your Local Pantry, to help tackle food poverty

SPARK newsletter winter 2020

Life on the Breadline: PhD opportunity

Scripture from the Margins: Bible bookmark

Vacancy: Chair of Trustees

Speaking Truth to Power: North East event for Church Action on Poverty Sunday 2020

Make like Moses