Hiding in Plain View: New Year Message 2017

Poverty is many things. Poverty is hiding in plain view. Poverty is people. Not.. ‘them’. Us. Just a few lines from one of the poems written by a group of people with direct experience of poverty and professional writers as part of our Powerlines project.

salford-nice-group

The Salford NICE group, formed to challenge the stigma of poverty in 2014

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An open letter to the new Prime Minister: Join with us in tackling Foodbank Britain

Dear Prime Minister

The litmus for your One Nation Premiership will be your ability to reach out and tackle foodbank Britain. 

Teresa MayThe vison you set out on the steps of Number 10 for a Premiership committed to social justice and One Nation compassionate Conservatism was bold. The challenge of uniting a country divided by inequalities of health, life expectancy and opportunity is great.

But to achieve your goal of uniting the country, you will have to reach out far beyond struggling middle Britain of working families with mortgages and anxieties over getting their kids into a good  school.

The past few years have been marked by the growth of foodbank Britain. Of families in and out of work struggling to put food on the table; of children turning up at school hungry and returning to school after summer holidays without the benefit of free school meals, poorly fed, with their educational attainment and life chances diminished as a result. Of families being forced to turn to foodbanks as a result of delays, errors and missing benefit cheques and over-zealously applied benefit sanctions.

Under David Cameron’s premiership, the Government sadly failed to grasp the nettle of Foodbank Britain. At times the Government gave the impression of being in denial about the scale or the problem, that problems with the benefits system had any role in exacerbating the problem or that the Government more generally had any role in seeking to address it.  At others, it seemed to simply want to pass the buck to hard pressed teams of volunteers struggling to fill the gap by handing out emergency food parcels.

As a One Nation Prime Minister you can and must do better. You have a fantastic opportunity to reach out to the tens of thousands of volunteers and hundreds of thousands of people at the sharp end of foodbank Britain.

Nothing would demonstrate better that your Government is for everyone, than by setting a goal of halving the numbers needing to go to foodbanks by 2020.  Nothing would demonstrate your qualities of moral and political leadership, than by committing Government to work with civil society, business and others to develop a coherent plan for achieving this.

You could start by challenging each of your new Cabinet colleagues in charge of a Department which has a stake in the issue – DWP, Health, Education, DEFRA, DCLG – to step up to the plate, and to come up with a plan for how they can help put an end to Foodbank Britain.

You can rest assured that if you give the lead, civil society, faith groups and the countless organisations involved in addressing these issues on the ground across the country, are ready and waiting.

Join with us. Work with us. Together we can end hunger within out shores.

Niall Cooper
Director
Church Action on Poverty

 

Visions of the Good Society: Plaid Cymru

Good-Society-logoWe’re working with churches across the UK to share visions of a Good Society – first at events on Church Action on Poverty Sunday, and then by holding General Election hustings events based on the churches’ Vision of a Good Society.

By sharing our own vision, we hope churches can challenge politicians to talk more about their own positive visions, and less about short-term problems and negative issues. So we’ve asked Christian politicians and candidates of all parties to share their reactions to our 2020 Vision of the Good Society, and talk about their own aspirations.

To avoid any bias in our presentation, we’ve selected the order of these guest blogs at random. This one is from Plaid Cymru.

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The Resilient City

Victoria Hall Methodist ChurchFather Shaun Smith, chair of Church Action on Poverty in Sheffield, shares some thoughts and reflections following the group’s Church Action on Poverty Sunday service in Victoria Hall Methodist Church on 15 February:

We had a congregation of more than 60 people. Canon Nick Jowett prepared and led the service, with the assistance of Revd Jonathan Haigh who hosted the service as minister of Victoria Hall.

We heard different voices from people who had been asked to share their visions of what makes a good society (caring for each other, offering love and support, feeling safe, and open to all), and then we shared our responses with our neighbours in church.

Readings from Jeremiah 29:1-7 and Matthew 5:3-16 then led us into a thoughtful sermon from Canon Dr Alan Billings, Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire.  Drawing on his involvement with the Faith in the City report in the 1980s and reflecting on how things have changed since then, he spoke about spiritual poverty at all levels of society and the role of the church. His address appears below, after the break.

We said together this prayer at the end of the service:

Loving God, you made us in your image and inspire us with your story. Bless us with dreams and visions which are big enough to see your kingdom. Strengthen our hands and hearts as we work with Church Action on Poverty towards that good society where the promise of fullness of life is real for each and every one. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

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Visions of the Good Society: Stephen Lloyd (Liberal Democrat)

Good-Society-logoWe’re working with churches across the UK to share visions of a Good Society – first at events on Church Action on Poverty Sunday, and then by holding General Election hustings events based on the churches’ Vision of a Good Society.

By sharing our own vision, we hope churches can challenge politicians to talk more about their own positive visions, and less about short-term problems and negative issues. So we’ve asked Christian politicians and candidates of all parties to share their reactions to our 2020 Vision of the Good Society, and talk about their own aspirations.

To avoid any bias in our presentation, we’ve selected the order of these guest blogs at random. This third one is by Stephen Lloyd, Liberal Democrat MP for Eastbourne and Willingdon and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on RE in schools.

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Visions of the Good Society: Stephen Timms (Labour)

Good-Society-logoWe’re working with churches across the UK to share visions of a Good Society – first at events on Church Action on Poverty Sunday, and then by holding General Election hustings events based on the churches’ Vision of a Good Society.

By sharing our own vision, we hope churches can challenge politicians to talk more about their own positive visions, and less about short-term problems and negative issues. So we’ve asked Christian politicians and candidates of all parties to share their reactions to our 2020 Vision of the Good Society, and talk about their own aspirations.

To avoid any bias in our presentation, we’ve selected the order of these guest blogs at random. This third one is by Stephen Timms, Labour MP for East Ham and chair of Christians on the Left.

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Visions of the Good Society: Jonathan Bartley (Green)

Good-Society-logoWe’re working with churches across the UK to share visions of a Good Society – first at events on Church Action on Poverty Sunday, and then by holding General Election hustings events based on the churches’ Vision of a Good Society.

By sharing our own vision, we hope churches can challenge politicians to talk more about their own positive visions, and less about short-term problems and negative issues. So we’ve asked Christian politicians and candidates of all parties to share their reactions to our 2020 Vision of the Good Society, and talk about their own aspirations.

To avoid any bias in our presentation, we’ve selected the order of these guest blogs at random. This second one is by Jonathan Bartley, Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for the Green Party in Streatham.

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