Give your Christmas bonus to credit unions, says bishop
The Acting Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese is encouraging more people to get involved with projects to help the vulnerable this Christmas through food banks, night shelters and supporting credit unions.
The Right Reverend Dr David Thompson said such services were vital for many of the poorest members of the community.
In a message to parishioners, he offers a reminder that Christmas marks a time when Jesus came into the world as a vulnerable baby in order to demonstrate His love for us.
"Needing shelter from a stranger, unable to feed himself, one day to become a prisoner and die in pain. When we draw close to him, regular churchgoers or individuals on our journey of faith, we find the strength and inspiration we need to help others at their most vulnerable too," the bishop said.
He praised the work of foodbanks and noted how easy it is to donate to the cause, "whether it is leaving a box of teabags at the church collection point or buying an extra bag of sugar at the supermarket and leaving it in a donation trolley."
He also spoke of the homeless shelters that are currently opening each evening across Ipswich. Church halls are open from 8pm to 8am seven days a week until March next year, providing a place of shelter and protection for those sleeping rough during the coldest months of the year.
"Night shelters are so vital. There is a chill in the air and being outside with poor clothing and a frost or snow on the ground is frightening," he said.
"So I feel for those who are homeless from the bottom of my heart...we are looking for those from all faiths or none to help support rough sleepers in these shelters."
In addition, Bishop Thompson also took the opportunity to commend the work of credit unions, which lend money at competitive rates and serve as a fairer and more affordable system for borrowers in comparison to many payday loan companies.
"Investing your Christmas money with the credit union will provide an enormous social return and do real good in our county," the bishop said.
He suggested that those who receive Christmas bonuses bank them with their local credit unions, saying he is planning on doing the same with the money he himself receives from relatives during the festive period.
"Your money is safe and you can draw it out again when you need it yourself, and you will not get great interest elsewhere anyway. The credit union will then use your money to lend to those in need who need a loan.
"And if everyone gives a little time to help others, through food banks, supporting night shelters and credit unions, we will surprise ourselves by what a good time we will have helping others too," he concluded.