Poverty & Homelessness Action Week has been running each year since 2008. It brings together two special Sundays which have been marked in UK churches for many years: Homelessness Sunday and Poverty Action Sunday.
The Week aims to:
- raise awareness of the issues of poverty and homelessness in the UK
- raise funds for projects and campaigns which work to tackle poverty and homelessness
- involve people in campaign actions that tackle the causes of poverty and homelessness
Individuals, churches and groups are all encouraged to get involved in the week:
- Churches can run worship services to mark one of the Sundays, praying for vulnerable people as well as raising awareness and funds.
- Many churches also run special activities for children or young people.
- Groups and organisations (including schools) can run events to raise funds or awareness.
- Individuals can use our resources to reflect on the theme, and donate to support the cause.
Free resources are available from this website to support people doing all of these things. We also maintain a database of all events being organised each year, helping to promote and organise events.
Action Week is jointly organised by Church Action on Poverty, Housing Justice and Scottish Churches Housing Action. It is sponsored and supported by many other organisations.
Action Week 2014: Standing alongside people in crisis
This year we have turned to Proverbs for inspiration: “Speak up for the rights of all who are destitute”.
There are people who are destitute in today’s Britain. The phenomenal growth of foodbanks has happened not because there is ‘infinite demand for free food,’ as Lord Freud put it last July – but because thousands of people have recognised something needs to be in place to fill gaps left by our creaking benefits system. Without them, families are starving.
Low wages, zero-hours contracts, outrageous interest charges by doorstep lenders, benefits cuts, benefits delays, ‘sanctions’ on job-seekers – all these and more contribute to a Britain where many are locked out of what the rest take for granted.
And there are plenty who are not destitute, but teetering on the edge. “Just two pay-packets away from homelessness” is how many feel.
So from Homelessness Sunday on 26 January to Poverty Action Sunday on 2 February, we call on churches across the UK to stand alongside people in crisis; to give, act and pray for justice.
In the Old Testament, we see an emphasis on social duties and community obligations: the periodic jubilee under which property debts were wiped out; the importance of supporting the widow and her children, of providing for the stranger and the refugee. In the New Testament, Jesus demonstrates grace in the stories of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son.
These biblical approaches are a world away from the current fixation with driving a wedge between the poor and the comfortable in our land. Action Week is one opportunity for churches to stand together and speak up for people in poverty.