Updated: Jan 15
Nearly three million adults in the UK are estimated to have sought help from church or other religious organisations since the start of 2022 as a result of the cost of living crisis, according to research published just days before Christmas.
New findings show that overall almost four in 10 (38 per cent) of UK adults have sought help this year because of the squeeze on living costs, with family and friends the most common source of help at 24 per cent and 14 per cent respectively.
However the polling by Savanta, for the Church of England, also found that five per cent of UK adults, approximately equivalent to 2.6 million people, report having sought help from churches or other religious organisations.
Six in 10 of those who sought help from churches and other religions said they had received free food or groceries (60 per cent). Half said they received low-cost food or groceries (50 per cent) or hot food (48 per cent), and four in 10 (40 per cent) said they had been provided with warm spaces.
The survey showed that overall 61 per cent of UK adults said they had not sought help in 2022 as a result of the cost of living crisis, but this figure fell to 24 per cent of 18-to-24 year olds and 30 per cent of 25 to 34-year-olds.
In 2022 the Warm Welcome campaign was launched, supported by thousands of churches and other public buildings which are opening their doors this winter to provide a warm space for people amid surging energy bills.
The Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, who speaks for the Church of England on welfare issues, said: “Churches have been providing a lifeline to people struggling to balance their household budgets and provide for their families through food banks and food clubs and other forms of hospitality for many years.
The cost of living crisis has seen churches step up this support, with many providing warm spaces through the Warm Welcome campaign this winter for people struggling to heat their homes.
The figure of nearly three million people seeking help from church or other religious organisations since the start of this year is almost certainly an underestimate of the extent of the support, as many visit church-run food banks and food clubs in order to provide for their families and wider households."
Have you read "Christian Social Action: making a difference where you are?" The Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP, who is the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Faith and Society says: "As hopeful as it is sobering, John Evans’ infectious vision, set out in his guide to outreach in the context of Christian fellowship, provides a stirring call to action. Here is a practical approach, post-pandemic, to help churches tackle the injustice around them. It draws on inspiration from history, but is clear-sighted about the emerging realities of poverty in Britain today, and the barriers faith groups face in addressing them. And it lays out clear steps for trustees and leaders to establish their vision, agree on a plan and convince others of the value of their work.”
You can obtain your copy here.