Many of us will be feeling the effects of the cost of living crisis. In the last few years, costs have been steadily rising, with inflation at a 30-year high and food, fuel and energy prices increasing with wages and benefits not keeping up. For some the result of this is devastating, with rising numbers unable to meet their basic living needs such as adequate heating for the home, appropriate clothing or good nutrition.
As christians, we are called to help those in need. So what can churches do? Sadly, churches do not have the resources to lift all out of poverty or to change the structures that have led to the cost of living crisis. However, churches can help alleviate suffering and be a central hub for the local community. Here are a few suggestions of ways to help:
Support for bills
Perhaps your church could consider setting up a contingency fund that people could apply for in emergencies to help pay their bills.
Coffee mornings or lunchclubs
Hosting a free or subsidised weekly coffee morning or lunchclub can be a great way for people to get together and socialise as well as helping with food poverty.
Whilst many churches may be struggling to heat their own buildings, others may be in a good place to offer their building (or church hall) as a warm refuge for people who cannot afford heating. The Warwickshire Rural Community Council has been coordinating warm hubs in Warwickshire.
Running a children's holiday club with a meal included can help parents with childcare during the holidays and ensure children (particulalrly those who receive free school meals) have access to a good, balanced meal.
Maybe you can get together a group of volunteers who are good at DIY to help people with insulation, draft-exclusion and other small DIY tasks that can help with bills.
Some churches already run debt advice clinics, but as the demand for support is set to rise, it might be a good idea to recruit more volunteers. Or perhaps this is a new venture you are interested in and would like to find out more. Christians Against Poverty has information about becoming a CAP debt centre.
Please pray for politicians and policymakers that the decisions they make help support and protect those in need. Also pray for charities and churches who are providing help, that they have the resources they need. Finally pray for the safety and wellbeing of all those affected by the cost of living crisis.
We would love to hear about how your church is responding to the crisis. Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.