Social Action

Archbishop leads calls to tackle “poverty on the doorstep”

08/05/2013 4:53 pm

Homeless man sleeps on the streets in central London

In the face of rising levels of domestic poverty, with 350,000 families now using foodbanks, 3.6 million children living in poverty and almost five million people earning below the living wage, the Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN) has announced a seminal conference to strengthen and develop the Catholic Church’s response to the poverty crisis.

The Most Rev Peter Smith, Archbishop of Southwark and Vice Chair of the Bishops' Conference, has led the call for Catholics to engage directly with the issue of domestic poverty in this vital conversation.

Emphasising the importance of tackling poverty in our community, Archbishop Peter Smith said:

“The Holy Father Pope Francis has called us to be a Church for the poor. This conference offers a timely opportunity to develop our answer to his call here in England and Wales. With a growing number of families struggling to meet even the most basic standard of living, the Church’s mission to tackle poverty in our own communities is now more important than ever.

“Poverty cannot be viewed solely through an international lens; it exists in a variety of manifestations on our doorstep. Poverty in the UK may be less visible, but for the families and individuals in insecure accommodation, struggling to meet living costs and foregoing meals, it is just as real.”

CSAN is the domestic social action arm of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. Comprising 41 member charities, its members work diversely across the field of social action including – families and children, prisoners, refugees, elderly people, homeless people and many others.

CSAN’s two-day residential conference, ‘The Catholic Response to the Poverty Crisis’ will take place on 12 - 13 June at St Mary’s University College in Twickenham.

The keynote speech will be delivered by Lord David Alton and Archbishop Vincent Nichols will be celebrating mass and providing a spiritual reflection on domestic poverty.

Speakers will include Mark Hoban MP, Minister of State for Employment; Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP, Shadow Minister of State for Employment; Edward Leigh MP; Rob Flello MP, Shadow Justice Minister; Colin Bloom, Executive Director of the Conservative Christian Fellowship and Frances O’Grady, TUC General Secretary. Dr Patrick Riordan SJ will provide a theological perspective and Tom Sefton, the Church of England’s Economic Advisor will be providing an economic analysis of the poverty crisis.

CSAN Chief Executive Helen O’Brien said:

“This conference will bring together clergy, politicians, theologians, academics, charities and the laity to discuss what the Catholic response to the poverty crisis should be.

“Catholic charities are already quietly but actively responding to social problems in projects and initiatives across England and Wales but are now struggling to cope with the increased demand for their services.

“It is vital that we as a Church start the conversation about how we can build and enhance the excellent work Catholic charities and local community and parish projects already do.”

Tweets

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Follow news of the @CSANWire conference on Twitter #CSANPovertyConf

Background

The figure of nearly 5 million people earning below the Living Wage is from Markit, Living Wage Research for KPMG, Current Trends in Household Finances and Structural Analysis of Hourly Wages, October 2012, which found that 4.82m people were earning below the living wage.

The figure of 3.6 million children living in poverty in the UK is sourced from the Child Poverty Action Group.

The figure of 350,000 people resorting to foodbanks in the last 12 months is from the Trussell Trust.

Contact

For more information about CSAN’s conference or to register:

Alison Potter

e: alison.potter@csan.org.uk
t: 020 7633 4970

Link

csan.org.uk
CSAN (Caritas Social Action Network) is the social action arm of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales. It is a network of 41 charities whose ethos are rooted in Catholic Social Teaching. The member organisations work diversely across the field of social action including – families and children, prisoners, elderly people, homeless people and many others.

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