…to the Vincentians in Partnership November justice e-newsletter.
Vincentians in Partnership is the umbrella organisation of all Vincentian organisations in Great Britain. This monthly e-newsletter gives you the latest news from the VIP and the Vincentian Family and actions for the justice campaigns we are involved in. For more information about the work of the VIP please visit the VIP website.
Please get in touch with us if you would like more information about any of the items featured or if you have an article for inclusion in the December newsletter.
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Church Action on Poverty
Poverty & Homelessness Action Week 2014:
stand alongside people in crisis
“Remove poverty and justice, and the Holy Bible becomes a Bible full of holes” (Jim Wallis)
Throughout the scriptures, we see that God is always on the side of people who are poor, oppressed, homeless or marginalised.
In this time of economic crisis, people experiencing poverty and homelessness are being hit harder than anybody else by the recession and spending cuts. Churches are called to show God’s bias by standing alongside these people.
Church Action on Poverty, Housing Justice and Scottish Churches Housing Action respond to that call through practical action and campaigns.
They invite you to give, act and pray during Poverty & Homelessness Action Week (25 January – 2 February 2014).
§ Use free worship resources in your church on Homelessness Sunday (26 January) or Poverty ActionSunday (2 February).
§ Follow our prayer calendar through the week, with stories, prayers and ideas for action.
§ Hold a collection or appeal to raise funds for our work standing alongside those hit by the crisis and cuts.
The Ladies of Charity is the oldest voluntary lay association of women in the church. It dates back to 1617 when, for the first time, Vincent de Paul gathered a group of women in Chatillon-les-Dombes, France and gave structure to their first initiatives to come to the aid of the poor families in the parish. To this first group of women volunteers St.Vincent gave the significant name of “Ladies of Charity”. Today there are members in Salford, Hallam, and Westminster dioceses visiting the housebound and those who are ill at home or in hospital. Members also reach out to those in any kind of need or poverty.
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Are young Brits lacking in motivation, work ethic?
As promised last month I have published two comments received in response to our item asking if migrant workers have a stronger and more positive work attitude and ethic than UK-born workers. Two differing but not polar opposite views and I thank you for your comments.
A letter to The Church Times from the Revd Paul Nicolson
Sir, – The Church Times seems to have shunned reporting Russell Brand’s recent outburst, which resembled the curate’s egg.
Mr Brand is right, however, to imply that the current political battle is between those who regard solidarity as the guiding social and economic principle and those who promote the betterment and survival of the fittest in the unregulated free market. He writes in The New Statesman : “By spiritual I mean the acknowledgement that our connection to one another and the planet must be prioritised.”
He wants a revolution, and urges people not to vote; but if the solidarity camp do not want the further corruption of social justice in 2015, then we have to make sure that those in power will model the market economy to serve everyone. Not voting is not an option for us.
Parliament has made catastrophic mistakes over the past 30 years, allowing the free marketeers to dismantle a social and economic system that promoted, supported, and expressed solidarity; but very few politicians are the “frauds and liars” that Mr Brand calls them. In “The lumbering monotheistic faiths have given us millennia of grief for a handful of prayers and some sparky rituals,” he expresses some of my own frustration about the Churches; but express frustration is what he does throughout – with current politics; and much of his frustration is justified.
He is wrong about the 2011 riots: “These young people have been accidentally marketed to their whole lives without the economic means to to participate in the carnival.” It was no accident; J. K. Galbraith saw it coming inThe Culture of Contentment in 1992: “The controlling role of taxation continues. The only effective design for diminishing the income inequality inherent in capitalism is the progressive income tax. Nothing in the age of contentment has contributed so strongly to income inequality as the reduction of taxes on the rich; nothing, as has been said, so contributes to social tranquillity as some screams of anguish from the very affluent. That taxes should now be used to reduce the inequality is, however, clearly outside the realm of comfortable thought. Here the collision between wise social action and the culture of contentment is most apparent.”
Galbraith suggested that the contented voters worried about current conditions and their own immediate welfare, but failed to consider future consequences of current policies. This short-sightedness was likely to lead to one or more social problems.
Prevailing political wisdom encourages the value of homes to increase as a vote-catching policy that increases the wealth and contentment of the home-owner and vendor, but does nothing for the renter. Political parties believe they will not be elected if they decrease the value of homes or introduce higher progressive taxation.
What is needed from the Churches is many strong Oscar Romero-like voices against the policies and structural injustice that create debts, hunger, cold, and unaffordable homes for the poorest citizens, who call for the rejection in the ballot box of the current Government in 2015. “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!” (Luke 19.40).
Taxpayers Against Poverty
93 Campbell Road
London N17 0BF
Depaul UK are running their first campaign ‘Clocking off for Christmas’ asking people to donate their last working hour before Christmas to help young homeless people in the UK.
To get involved or discuss holding your own workplace fundraising activities over Christmas contact Shelley Green on 0207 939 1274 or email:email@example.com
From the Independent Catholic News:
“As temperatures begin to plummet, the St Vincent de Paul Society, (SVP) has bought enough stock to provide 10,000 Vinnie Packs for distribution to people living on the streets.
Each pack contains cold weather essentials including a hat, gloves and socks which are all thermal, an emergency foil blanket, full sized tube of toothpaste, toothbrush, pen and information card.
In London alone, 120 homeless people died in the past year. Their names were read out at a moving service at St Martin-in the- Fields Church, Trafalgar Square on 7 November. (See ICN 10 November 2013 -London: Service commemorates homeless people who died in last year http://www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=23573 )
SVP spokeswoman Siobhan Garibaldi, said: “Hypothermia is a real danger for people on the streets, but at least with these packs, people will be able to keep a bit warmer. The information card gives details of where people can go for more advice and support. ”
The SVP has already distributed more than 1,000 Vinnie Packs this year through their soup runs and projects. Another 1,000 packs will go out within the next couple of weeks.
In addition to London, stock has been sent to locations from Cornwall to Newcastle.
In order to ensure that the scheme keeps going and that no one has to be turned away, the charity are asking the public to sponsor Vinnie Packs at a suggested amount of £3 per pack. Cheques made out to “SVP” can be sent to Vinnie Packs, PO Box 72264, London SW1P 9EZ. The St Vincent de Paul, and more importantly the recipients of the Vinnie Packs, are very grateful for the support they receive.
VIP are involved, along with Church Action on Poverty, Housing Justice, CSAN and others, in this ongoing conversation about the Churches’ role in tackling UK poverty – and in
particular the challenges and opportunities over the next 15 months, in the run up to the next General Election.
Please let us know what you think about the issues below so that we can make sure they are
· What are the key issues that people are seeing emerging at a local level (eg foodbanks, welfare reform etc)
· How can we be more effective in challenging the negative language in relation to poverty and welfare?
· What political opportunities (if any) do we see over the next 15 months.
· What, if anything, can the Churches bring to the public/political debate about tackling poverty?
· Are there any positive narratives or ways of framing the debate (Common Good, Closing the Gap etc) which will help us in the task?
· Is there an appetite for working on a joint statement of the churches’ position – or other ways of collaborating – in advance of the Election?
A representative from VIP’s justice group will attend the next meeting in December and we will keep you updated on the outcomes.
The Passage – fundraising initiative for the homeless
The Passage volunteers, holding placards like the one pictured stood in for the homeless at London’ Victoria station. The campaign confronts people’s biases towards the homeless and saw donations increase by 25% in a three hour period.
The Space is a member of our Vincentian Family, located in Govanhill – the most culturally diverse area of Scotland and an area of intense deprivation. They offer a warm welcome to all people – to those who live and to those who frequent Govanhill. The Space is a place of safety where all people are welcome. They can enjoy tea or coffee and sit quietly or engage in conversation. The Space support people practically e.g. by providing access to food and or clothing, and emotionally through listening and mentoring using and approach that enables people to be heard and for them to develop the networks and relationships they need to move forward with their life. They also provide a space for contemplation as people also request prayer. Their work is built on trust and is relational so that people are empowered to grow and to transform their lives.
Some feedback from support visits:
‘Olivia has been back to see us. When she came in the volunteers engaged her in conversation whilst I remained at the back of the room. I observed the exchange with interest… I could see something different in her. While she was in conversation with the volunteers I called out to her a couple of times and we exchanged some comments across the room. This was incredible – a few weeks ago it took three attempts before she came through the door. I watched her… and then she looked over to me and gave me the most wonderful smile. Her whole face was transformed… she was beautiful…and in that instant I knew. I knew we were on the road to Emmaus.’
‘Manuel is an artist… a very talented and very clever man. He doesn’t call any country home but rather travels across Europe sleeping where he can. He is a drifter. He attended art school in Rome and Florence and is warm, friendly and very gentle. He also has significant mental ill-health and is no stranger to psychiatric units. He is in some trouble with the police for the possession of cannabis and we have been liaising with the Fiscal Office on his behalf and we have also enabled him to see a doctor and a psychiatrist. As a drifter he is ‘sans papier’, and as such doesn’t exist as far as statutory services are concerned. Thus, trying to get a doctor to see him was a monumental task. When we finally managed to secure an appointment he was not allowed to wait in the waiting room but we were told he must wait outside… how awful … and what a terrible message this sends to someone. We were fortunate in that it was a dry day. Manuel has been to visit The Space on a number of occasions… he said he can trust us and that he knows we won’t exploit him. He said “… this Space feels like home… it is a good place for me to come and not be worried”. “I can be calm here”. The last time he was in to visit us he said “This is home, its warm, friendly and I was lost and I needed this … I feel safe here”. Manual spent the morning with us and started to tell us about his faith. He said he believes in the one true God and that he doesn’t bother much with religion. He said he thanks God for protecting him‘
VIP’s director Paul Southgate responds to Premier Christian Radio’s “Christmas starts with Christ” campaign
German mystic Meister Eckhart challenged people: “What good is it if Christ was born 2000 years ago, if he is not born to me, in my time, and in my culture?”
The High Street has hijacked Christmas and the great feast in 3rd millenium British culture if drifting from its Christian moorings. It’s hard to find in our shops Christmas cards celebrating the birth opf Jesus. It’s hard to find genuine nativity plays in our schools.
Yet the motives of the British people are often at their purest and best at Christmas time without them quite knowing why. Sometimes a reminder, a question, a story, a gesture, is all it takes to wake people up from their sleep-walking forgetfulness. Advent says “Wake up!”
I’m delighted that Premier Christian Radio is responding to the challenge with its “Christmas starts with Christ” project and hope that all churches will throw their weight behind it.
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