Churches plan to help tackle poverty

Andrew Selous MP opens the conference. Photo by Asher Noblett
Andrew Selous MP opens the conference. Photo by Asher Noblett
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Andrew Selous MP joined national organisations combating poverty at a the War On Local Poverty conference in Dunstable on Saturday, June 27.

The conference was the latest in a four-year programme of events organised by the Social Action group of Dunstable churched to address poverty and marginalisation in Central and South Bedfordshire.

Ed Boyd from Centre for Social Justice addressing the conference. Photo by Asher Noblett

Ed Boyd from Centre for Social Justice addressing the conference. Photo by Asher Noblett

The Salvation Army, Centre for Social Justice, Jubilee-Plus and Central Bedfordshire Council’s anti poverty group also attended the conference.

Andrew Selous MP said: “It is a privilege to be working with a number of churches and one of the good things coming from this initiative is the Dunstable foodbank.

“Street pastors and debt advice are also areas where local churches are making a difference.”

The conference was held at the COM Church, Dunstable, and was chaired by Nigel Taylor, lead elder of Hope Church.

The aim was to bring people together from churches to look at issues surrounding local poverty, how to fight it and to encourage the work each church is doing and to look locally at what people can do to help those who need it.

Speaker Ed Boyd, deputy policy director of the centre for social justice, suggested that the five roots causes of poverty were debt, addiction, family breakdown, educational failure and unemployment.

He felt it was important that faith groups, with their biblical mandate to tackle poverty, should be up front in the fight against poverty.

Director of community service UK and Ireland of the Salvation Army, Captain Elizabeth Hayward, said: “Wages are not keeping pace with costs, there is less affordable housing, and crucial items cost more and on top of that there is the high street presence of money lenders with high interest rates.”

She believes that we must identify the issues that have brought a person to a foodbank, and that includes structural injustices in our society.

She said: “Foodbanks can mask poor performances of government agencies to provide a safety net.”

The Social Action group led by Lorraine Cook looked at what churches are doing and could do better, better communication, signposting and not just helping people nearby were some of the ideas they came up with.

For more information visit: www.waronpoverty.co.uk