As we head into the Autumn and Winter of 2022-2023, the cost of living crisis is of major concern for all of us.
The huge jump in fuel bills in coming months, plus rising food, petrol and rent costs in London mean for many, life has just become unaffordable.
We know that churches already offer ministry in their community, and many of these serve and reach these most vulnerable who will be most affected by this coming crisis.
We’re collecting useful resources, links and blogs here, for churches who want to respond. We will update this throughout the Autumn and Winter months.
A series of monthly ‘Lunch and Learn’ sessions related to the current cost of living crisis. Running from February 2023 on the third Tuesday of each month, and hosted by the Compassionate Communities Team, these sessions are aimed at church communities in the Diocese of London. For more information and to book your place, click HERE.
Resources for Churches
Information and guidance for churches considering opening up spaces where people can keep warm this winter
Read and watch our training material on Universal Credit, equipping clergy and volunteers in churches to support those who are navigating the system.
In this training we cover:
- a basic understanding of the Universal Credit system.
- the design of the Universal Credit system as a justice issue, and what the church can do to challenge this injustice.
Our Money Help Toolkit is put together as a helpful resource bank for any churches wanting to help their community around money. Talking about it, budgeting with it, saving it, and what to do when someone is in money crisis.
We have produced 8 simple videos/training sessions, with experts and churches, on a range of ways in which churches are engaging with issues around money struggles, along with downloadable resources and useful organisations you can contact and partner with.
While we think about our responses to serving our community, we must also consider those our churches employ. Paying them the Living Wage, ensuring they have enough to live on is an action of justice that we can take in responding to the Cost of Living Crisis.
- Our training event on zoom on how to help churches accredit to the Living Wage - details here
- You can find out more about the Living Wage here
Corin Pilling challenges us to think about any response we offer: not by kneejerk meeting of need, or “service delivery” but instead a response that is distinctly Christian, with social and spiritual transformation at it’s heart. In it he sets out 6 principles of participation for any churches wanting to respond to our current crisis.
“Many churches are tiring of models of social action that simply add an extra layer of welfare provision to our creaking system.
When the focus is too much on need, it can fail to offer any social or spiritual transformation.
I want to challenge our survival mode responses and explore opportunities for genuine community building which might offer something more authentic and more Jesus-flavoured.”
Our friends at the Joint Public Issues Team (JPIT) have produced this briefing outlining the extent of the crisis & offering ways to respond.
This excellent little booklet has been produced by Jubilee Plus for churches who are preparing for the impact of the cost of living crisis. It has helpful tips and principles that everyone in every church can consider.
Signposting and Advice on Energy Bills & Finance
This page covers the cost of gas & electric price rises and the impact on churches, as well as where to go within the Diocese for more help and support
This excellent website runs down the basics of what support is offered to households with their energy bills currently, and how it will be delivered.
This comprehensive blog from Love your Neighbour outlines some steps to take if you are helping someone who is struggling
Advice for those on Pre-Payment Meters
One of our clergy, Revd Alice Smith, has created this excellent downloadable guide to helping those on pre-payment meters access the help they are entitled to with the energy crisis. You can download it below in PDF or Jpeg form: please do share it!
Organisations Who Can Help or Partner
Here are a few organisations who offer support for churches in responding to practical poverty in their communities:
Acts 435 is an online giving charity, directly connecting those who want to give with those who are in genuine need of their help,through a network of local churches and charities. Churches can sign up to be an Advocate Church and then post on behalf of those in hardship for small gifts, which are all crowdfunded by people all over the country. More info on how to do this here.
- Example: St John the Evangelist, Brownswood Park - BLOG
Your Local Pantry help churches set up ‘Food Pantries’- membership food shops, focused on a particular neighbourhood. Pantries enhance communities and are a preventative approach to food insecurity.
- Example: Westbourne Park Baptist Church, W2 - BLOG
The Hygiene Bank organise to donate, collect, sort and distribute hygiene products to a network of community partners - a mix of organisations, charities and schools - who support those of us pulled into poverty.
- Example: Holy Sepulchre Church in the City of London - BLOG
These charities all offer churches partnerships where you can set up your own free debt advice to those struggling. A map of churches currently offering free debt advice in the Diocese is here.
- Example: St Pauls Hammersmith (Crosslight), St Gabriels Cricklewood (CAP), Jubilee Church Enfield (Community Money Advice)
The National Databank are providing free data to 500,000 people in need via Good Things Foundation’s network of community partners. You can join as a Community Partner to access their support, training, and access devices and SIM cards for those in need.
They describe it “like a foodbank but for internet connectivity”
Are there other organisations you have partnered with, that are missing or we should know about? Get in touch!
Websites & Organisations to signpost to
provide people in fuel poverty with financial support and practical advice, and partner with a range of community organisations across the UK
offer among other thing a range of advice and support both directly to people in need, and via frontline workers and other intermediaries: 0800 304 7159 (Mon to Fri 10am-12 noon)
Bags of Taste works with people in food poverty to improve their diets and finances. They run FREE cooking classes with simple ingredients to residents in boroughs of Islington, Hackney, Haringey, Tower Hamlets and City of London.
The Mayor of London has launched the Warmer Homes scheme, offering grants of £5000-£25000 for those on low income to improve energy efficiency in their homes
Some ideas from Our churches who are responding:
A few hours a week where the church can be heated for people who can’t afford to heat their homes. Some churches are planning to co-ordinate this with when the building was planned to be open anyway e.g. coffee mornings/drop in sessions/toddler groups. More resources, shared resources and tips about ‘Warm Spaces’ will follow as we gather them
- Example: St John the Evangelist, Kensal Green - BLOG
A good network of foodbanks across London in churches and community groups are already established (a map of current Diocese of London Foodbanks is here). Some already offer a cafe /drop in space as well, where people can have a hot drink, a chat, and in some cases, get offered money advice.
- Example: Hope Church Hounslow (formerly St Pauls Hounslow West) - VLOG
If you can afford to please do keep giving to them; one effect of the cost of living crisis is that donations will drop just as demand is spiking.
- Example: St Mary with St Lukes, Spring Grove
Cooking together/lunch clubs
- Example: Cooking Together at St Marys Hornsey Rise - BLOG
to offer people to do benefit checking support (eg with the Turn to Us Benefit Calculator)
Community Meeting Spaces
Offering churches as places for MPs and local councillors surgeries to listen to residents concerns
This August, 56 charities, faith groups and political leaders have joined together with former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, to call on the government to take urgent action, to ensure that those who need it most are supported this winter.
The call responds to a report written by poverty expert Professor Donald Hirsch which reveals the gap between the support the government is currently offering to households and the anticipated rise in living costs. The webinar to launch this report in August 2022 is below:
Churches and other groups are also making difficult calculations about their capacity to continue their vital social action; other forms of social action which don’t rely on buildings, such as food delivery services, are doubly stretched by the inflated cost of both petrol and groceries.
Tackling the Cost of Living Crisis: Helping More Children Living In Poverty To Access Free School Meals
Our friends at Praxis share with us about a recent change to government policy on free school meals, in the hope that our church and school communities can help more families in poverty to access this provision.
Restored: Supporting Survivors of Domestic Abuse
Bekah Legg, CEO of Restored, helps us to consider the impact of the cost of living crisis on those experiencing domestic abuse and how we as churches can support survivors.
Mother Alice Smith, vicar at St John the Evangelist, Brownswood Park, describes how Acts 435 has helped her to provide practical help to her parishioners.
Churches as Warm Spaces
Some thoughts from Revd David Ackerman, Vicar of St Johns Kensal Town, as they consider how they might offer their local church as a “Warm Space” this winter
Beyond Food Parcels: Holistic support for families
Gloria Saffrey-Powell and her team at CARIS Haringey are providing much more than food parcels to families on the edge in their local community.
The Hygiene Bank at Holy Sepulchre, Holborn
In 2019, Revd Nick Mottershead set up “The Hygiene Bank - Square Mile” in response to the rising issue of hygiene poverty in London. Not wanting to stop there, he is also encouraging corporate partners to upcycle their redundant resources through the “GenerosCity” initiative.