Faith: Frequently First In and Last Out

At the present time, with the cost of living causing significant issues for many people in our communities, it has become evident that faith groups provide a crucial link between the hard-to-reach and public services.

Case study

One very small faith-based team working on the South Coast of England have, over 5 years, seen some £9 million worth of debt relieved for their clients, many of whom have become indebted through no fault of their own (a significant proportion have been left with debt from an abusive partner, and some have become indebted through unexpected illness).

What matters to you in the cost of living?

We have now launched five brief surveys as part of our run-up to the General Election 2024 (What Matters To You?)

There will be time to respond to all surveys as they are launched – one a week – and we will keep the polls open beyond July 4th.

So if you haven’t responded to either poll, you may do so HERE.

So, what matters?

We asked people to name their three top priority policy areas the cost of living.  The themes were again, fairly evenly distributed, but the most popular was Housing Affordability, followed by Employment Opportunities, and Accessibility of the NHS.

Free responses

The free responses brought to light the fact that when working with people in their communities, faith groups are often the ones who persist for the longest, even when other people have moved on.

So – How can faith groups best support people in the current economic climate?

Faith groups are already doing significant work in the areas of debt advice, food banks, etc.. The next government should publicise these organisations (particularly CAP) and encourage people to get help.

The impact is always the greatest though when they not only deliver crisis support but also with skills towards employment, addressing wider issues.

By offering hope, pastoral care, a sense of community, and where possible practical help, e.g. with advice, form-filling, clothing and foodbanks.

By being there for the most vulnerable and "hidden".

Faith can create a social infrastructure to allow economic growth - not just “aid projects”.

Faith groups are playing a key role in supporting people through warm spaces, social supermarkets and food banks.

About David Simmons

Senior Project Coordinator

Having spent the first years of his professional life in the City of London, David has spent the past 19 years working in the Voluntary Sector, as a children and family practitioner, and latterly as a social researcher, for which he was awarded a PhD in 2013 with the University of Greenwich.

He runs his own company, Absolute Communication, and has worked with Cinnamon Network, Eido Research, Future Perfect, REACH Community Projects, Refresh in Weymouth, Yeovil 4Family, and Sussex Police, among others.

David is also a musician, singer, songwriter, and actor, having co-produced three musicals, and has also produced a one-man version of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.