The rising cost of living and energy is a concern for individuals and organisations alike.
On this page, we explore some of the ways you and your church might want to respond to the cost of living crisis, and some of the resources available:
We know many churches across the Diocese are exploring a range of creative ways in which they can respond to the cost-of-living crisis. Before doing anything, you should discuss your plans with others:
- The PCC
- The wider congregation
- Local partners
This will inform what your church response could be. Whether it is opening longer, offering food, signposting, running a course, providing coats or warm clothing, to name a few.
What is the actual need in your community, and the most sustainable response you can offer?
Churches are also encouraged to reach out to their local councillors to make them aware of the situation, as well as seek support from them.
Don't forget to let your Archdeacon and our Community Engagement and Social Action Lead know if you are undertaking a warm welcome initiative. This is so we can better map the response being offered across the Diocese. Or to discuss any ideas you may be considering, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
For some, their appropriate response might be to offer a warm space. Here are some things to consider:
Register with the Warm Welcome Campaign
The recently launched Warm Welcome campaign is an initiative of the ChurchWorks Commission could be a good place to start.
This is a group comprising national leaders of all the major Christian denominations in England, chaired by the Bishop of Durham - its aim is to help equip and support free, warm, safe, and welcoming spaces in communities across the UK.
Churches that register with Warm Welcome will be able to benefit from:
- Resources to help you set up and shape your Warm Welcome space
- Publicising of your Warm Welcome space on an online map and elsewhere as appropriate
- Regular updates on the Warm Welcome campaign
We recognise that churches themselves are facing soaring energy bills and in many cases are looking at reducing their opening times, not increasing them.
However, if there are times that your church, parish hall or community centre is heated and open, or could be open, then do consider pledging your support.
- Download the Warm Welcome campaign's Step by Step guide
- Martin Lewis - Setting up a warm space in your community - a guide
A space of welcome not charity
It is key, in offering a warm space, to avoid any stigma being attached to those who may be seeking help.
Thinking has developed around warm spaces into how they can be an extension of hospitality and welcome, a place where people can come to meet and find companionship, not receive charity.
Corin Pilling, UK director for the Christian mental health ministry, Sanctuary, has outlined 6 principles (see below) to consider around participating in a warm welcome initiative:
6 principles of participation
- Remember these forms of poverty are a chronic issue. This makes our response different to that of a crisis. It means we must think about the sustainability of our response. If we predict these interventions are still needed in 3 years time how would that change what we do?
- Think beyond food and warmth. We must consider how any response creates opportunities for building reciprocity. Let’s view those we seek to help as participants rather than passive recipients. In turn, that will lead us to grow places to meet, eat and create with others. We have far more than a building! We can offer something better than spending time at Wetherspoon’s.
- Think collaboratively. Start conversations about this now. This is a nationwide problem and is going nowhere. Talk to others in and outside church who are concerned. Coordinate and work in partnership where possible.
- Be mindful of power. Everyone likes to see themselves as a problem-solver and the hero of a situation; and the Church is no different. But I don’t like feeling as if I’m ‘a problem to be fixed’; no-one does. At a time when people’s dignity is being stripped, create opportunities for sharing skills and time, so we are tackling this issue together.
- Make it a place of participation. This is different to just hosting. It’s less ‘How can we help?’ and more, ‘Great to see you. Can you help put out the chairs?’ Make the bar to contribute as low as possible.
- Think ‘how can people bring their gifts?’ Games, workshops, music, activities? Think wellbeing and mental health. Host The Sanctuary Course or create a Renew Wellbeing Space.
(Corin Pilling, UK director for Sanctuary: Fuelling the problem? Find the full blog on: Grace and Truth website)
As with any community outreach or activity, the safety of all who engage is paramount. Before starting a warm welcome initiative, please ensure that:
- You have undertaken a risk assessment
- That all the appropriate safeguarding protocols are in place, including safer recruitment of volunteers. Please visit the Safeguarding pages for parishes: www.rochester.anglican.org/safeguarding/parishes/
- If you have any queries, please contact the Safeguarding Team whose contacts can be found on the Diocesan Safeguarding pages: www.rochester.anglican.org/safeguarding/
You may also find it helpful to read this blog from the Christian safeguarding charity thirtyone:eight:
Responding to the needs in a community could include signposting to relevant organisations and information, that can help people take control of their own situation. We list some you may like to be aware of below:
- Acts 435 is an organisation which seeks to share resources, directly connecting those who want to give with those in urgent need. www.acts435.org.uk/
- Five Christian charities tackling the cost of living crisis - A list compiled by the Christian organisation, Stewardship, of five Chrstian charities working to help people with their living costs.
- The National Databank is already 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.
It is described as, ‘like a foodbank but for internet connectivity', and it can be linked to an existing food bank or other welcome initiatives. www.goodthingsfoundation.org/databank/
- Martin Lewis, the Money Saving Expert, is championing the fight against high energy bills. His website and social media is full on helpful advice and guides: www.moneysavingexpert.com/
Attend a Diocesan Money Matters course - Could you help those in your church or community who are having money-related issues or worries due to the Cost of Living Crisis?
During November, the Community Engagement Social Action team is delivering a Money Matters course free via two one-hour workshops. You will then be able to deliver the training directly to people in your community who would like to be supported. This can be done via several methods such as face to face, small groups, Zoom etc.
The course is about information and signposting NOT giving advice as financial advice is a regulated activity. Register here
To discuss any ideas you may be considering, please contact: email@example.com
One way to offer support to those who need it is by upskilling volunteers with information and resources so that they can work with those who need support and give accurate information about money matters.
The Money Matters course does just that.
This free train-the-trainer course is designed to give people the confidence to provide information and signposting NOT to give financial advice; financial advice is a regulated activity.
The course was originally developed by the Just Finance Foundation and has been updated by the Diocese's Community Engagement and Social Action Team, who can deliver the Money Matters Course via free workshops.
Once trained, the volunteer can deliver training directly to people in the community who would like to be supported. This can be done via several methods such as:
- face to face
- small groups
- online in two, one-hour sessions, with some homework for attendees to complete between the sessions.
For full details about the course and how to arrange training download this course information guide.
Other helpful resources
- Giving in a Cost of Living Crisis - A recent YouGov survey suggests that people are still happy to give to charity, even at this time - they may just need to be asked. The Diocese's Generous Giving Advisor, Liz Mullins is available to come and explore with you and your church team how you can talk about giving in your local setting, in a positive and sensitive way. Contact her on: firstname.lastname@example.org Visit the Giving section of the Diocesan website.
- Heating your church this winter - A page of tips and suggestions compiled by the Church of England to help churches use less energy and keep their energy bills under control. Visit: www.churchofengland.org/resources/heating-your-church-winter
- Practical suggestions to help parishes save energy and money - The Cathedral and Church Buildings Division has prepared practical suggestions to help parishes save energy and money. You can download either the print version or interactive version.
- Church of England Environment Team - Includes a helpful two-page guide on reducing energy use. Visit: www.churchofengland.org/resources/churchcare/net-zero-carbon-church/practical-path-net-zero-carbon-churches
If financial cost is a concern, or a barrier to you undertaking outreach at this time, please contact Magali so we can gain a better understanding of the need: email@example.com
Let us pray
Heavenly Father, We thank you that our times are in your hands and you love us with an everlasting love.
We pray today for those who are afraid of what a change of season will mean for their home; those who simply will not be able to eat well and heat their homes at the same time.
May there be wisdom, compassion and fairness in responses made in the UK.
Give to your people the guidance they seek in how to help. Lead us to make generous, open-hearted responses and preserve us from guilt when we are inhibited by hard facts.
Watch over this nation in the cold and dark days ahead.
God of the loaves and fishes, who multiplies the basics of life to meet sudden needs, reach out in mercy we pray. And kindle in us the fire of your love. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Bishop Simon Burton-Jones, the Bishop of Tonbridge)