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Churches called to stand alongside people in crisis

Charities focus attention on poverty and homelessness

Churches across the UK will be giving, acting and praying in solidarity with people who are pushed to the edge of our society during the seventh annual Poverty and Homelessness Action Week.

Poverty Homelessness Action weRunning from 25 January to 2 February, the week includes Homelessness Sunday and Poverty Action Sunday, which have been marked by UK churches for many years.

The week challenges Christians to take notice of the poverty, exclusion and injustice around them - and to speak out. It supports the work of three Christian charities: Church Action on Poverty, Housing Justice, and Scottish Churches Housing Action.

Notable events include include the Truth, Lies and Spirit level conference in York will be looking at issues of poverty and inequality and the rhetoric surrounding them. Pier Avenue Baptist Church will also host a BBC5live breakfast programme and a report about its Enfold Project, which serves around 55 people each week with food, shower and computer facilities.

Churches can get involved by using free resources available on the website www.actionweek.org.uk. The materials highlight stories from the work of the three partner organisations - including challenging stigmatisation, organising night shelters, and providing affordable homes - and encourage churches to tackle poverty and homelessness in their own communities.

Dozens of supporters have already published their plans for Action Week. A map on the website shows events across the country, including church services, 'Question Time' evenings, workshops on inequality, sponsored sleep-outs and full-scale conferences.

Niall Cooper, Director of Church Action on Poverty, said, 'Channel 4’s Benefits Street programme shows why we need to stand alongside people in poverty. The storm of abuse it has whipped up is based on prejudice, on the part of both TV commissioners and the general public.

'Churches are part of the communities where benefit recipients and homeless people live, and know the realities behind sensationalist media coverage. Action Week is a chance for us to make those voices heard.'
Baptist Times, 24/01/2014
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