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Reform Magazine | April 22, 2019

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In this together

In this together

Churches in Bristol are working with local government and businesses to tackle deprivation. Stan Hazell reports

Can churches work in partnership with the secular world to tackle social deprivation? At a time of austerity and council budget cuts that threaten to impact the lives of thousands of vulnerable people, it is an important question. Churches in Bristol are helping to develop links in the city which they believe provide a unique answer.

Bristol is the third wealthiest city in Britain, and yet over 20,000 people use foodbanks. A quarter of children live in poverty, according to the charity End Child Poverty. Bristol is said to be one of the worst in the UK to be born poor.

In response to this, Christian Action Bristol, a church group which focusses on social challenges, facilitated a meeting at City Hall, called Building Bristol as a City of Hope. This brought together, for the first time, 200 leading figures from business, charities, the public sector and the council, as well as local churches. The meeting, in 2018, resulted in 120 pledges of help. Individuals agreed to commit a few hours a month to support those in debt or to mentor children needing support at school. Businesses agreed to provide staff for initiatives feeding hungry children in school holidays.

Christian Action Bristol has developed close links with the city council and local businesses on the many aspects of social deprivation. Its chair, Andy Street, regularly visits City Hall to liaise with officers and to exchange views and experiences. ‘I believe they recognise that we can have an input in shaping the responses in key areas of social need,’ he says. ‘We have introduced half a dozen programmes alongside the council. If we had failed, or came across as amateur do-gooders, we would have been shown the door.’…

Stan Hazell is a freelance journalist. For more information visit
www.christianactionbristol.org.uk

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This is an extract from an article that was published in the April 2019 edition of Reform

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