Christian charity sets out action plan to combat cost-of-living crisis

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As energy bills spiral and the cost of living soars, a Christian charity has set out an urgent action plan to help churches respond to the gathering storm.

While new Prime Minister Liz Truss and other politicians detail their responses, the Jubilee Plus social action charity has published detailed advice to help local congregations support families and individuals survive the coming winter.

In 'Responding to a Deepening Crisis,' Jubilee Plus has called on churches and Christians to act decisively.

The charity, that partners with local churches, states, "You no longer have to be prophetic to see that many in our communities are facing the devastating impact of the cost of living crisis. As always, it's the most vulnerable who are being hit hardest.

"Hardly a week goes by without us learning that the lives of those who are already struggling or who are just about managing, are going to be hit even harder than originally anticipated."

Jubilee Plus asks, "As Christians and churches, are we prepared?" and concedes, "It can be really hard to get the time and space to think through how we can best help people over the coming months, when we're already working flat out to support people in need in our communities."

The charity sets out a crisis plan under three headings: changed churches, changed communities and changed lives.

It calls for churches to take action including setting up a crisis fund, encouraging generosity, normalising asking for help and asking people what they need instead of assuming.

The plan encourages churches to speak up for the rights of those in need. This includes speaking truth to power and challenging decision-makers to act for the common good. Churches are encouraged to work with other community groups, and to make contact with key local organisations.

Jubilee Plus advises: "Brief meetings with the leader of the local council, the chiefs of police and the fire service, the head of your social housing provider, head teachers or senior social workers, as well as chief executives of long-running local charities, can be hugely informative and shaping.

"Going with no agenda, but simply to ask what they think are the biggest problems in the community in relation to poverty, where are the gaps, and how they think you can help, will give you lots of food for thought, prayer and strategic planning."

Jubilee Plus is encouraging churches to open up their buildings, or to hire one locally, that could become a drop-in centre for people who need to keep warm during the long winter months. It suggests, "A small team of volunteers could be on hand to make people feel welcomed and valued. You could team up with other churches in your area, each taking a day a week."

The charity is also suggesting that better-off Christians may like to buy extra items when they shop, that they could give away to others, and to pay someone else's energy, water or phone bill for a month.

Jubilee Plus believes the crisis could be long-term and is encouraging urgent action: "Now is the time to thinking strategically. So if you can set aside some time – as an individual, a project leader or a church leader – to think about what you need to put in place for the next few years – not just months – that will stand you, and the people you help in good stead for the future."

Rev Peter Crumpler is a Church of England minister in St Albans, Herts.