On Wednesday June 4 King’s Lynn Churches Together
held an open meeting to discuss the rise of poverty within the town and the response of Christians.
The meeting was the initiative of Chris Lindley
, who attends Our Lady of the Annunciation Catholic Church
in King’s Lynn
and is a member of Taxpayers Against Poverty
. Chris recently published a leaflet called ‘Benefit Changes Cause Suffering in King’s Lynn and West Norfolk’
following an investigation into the rise of poverty in King’s Lynn.
Speaking to the meeting, held at King’s Lynn (London Road) Methodist Church
, Chris summarised that his investigations show an increase in people using the King's Lynn Foodbank
rising from 1180 adults in 2012 to a projected 2600 in 2014. 68% of people attending Foodbank did so because of benefit delays or changes to welfare, including benefits sanctions. He discovered that during the first six months of 2013 the introduction of more vigorous benefits sanctions had led to 80 people in West Norfolk
each month temporarily losing their Job Seeker’s Allowance.
Chris reported that following the introduction of ‘the bedroom tax’, 1000 people locally had lost £10-25 per week in housing benefit while many have had to move to accommodation with fewer bedrooms. With Government financial support to the Borough Council reduced, Chris found that an estimated 3750 people on low incomes now have to pay some of their Council Tax to the extent of up to £15 per month.
Chris concludes his leaflet saying: “Since October 2012 when the Government’s welfare changes began, the effects on some of our neighbours in King’s Lynn and West Norfolk (with its population of 148,600) has been devastating.”
In response Churches Together in Kings Lynn invited Mid Norfolk CAP Debt Centre Manager John Graver
(pictured) to speak to the meeting to share how the debt charity Christians Against Poverty (CAP)
could offer local Christians a practical way to take action.
John began with the history of Christians Against Poverty and an overview of their work across the country. The charity has 266 debt centres in the UK and run money management courses in 1370 churches in the UK to help people manage their money.
Christians Against Poverty aims to release people from the fear of debt and debt collectors by contacting the clients’ creditors, establishing a workable budget and providing support and encouragement until the client is debt free.
John told the meeting that the expansion of need for CAP’s services is a poor reflection on our society, when increasing numbers of vulnerable people can’t pay their rent, bills or council tax, and are forced into the use of ‘pay day loan’ services. However over 2000 people became debt free in 2013, through the work of CAP, and many people have come to see Jesus as their Saviour through this loving work.
To start a Debt Centre in Kings Lynn would require an annual fee payable to CAP as the parent charity, which provides the training and manuals needed to equip those running the centre. It also requires a person with the heart to take on the initial work of setting up the local branch.
John encouraged those in attendance to sign up to the CAP magazine ‘Lifted’
to receive topics to pray for, and to consider supporting the work of the charity financially.
This article is based on a written report of the meeting by Peter Coates, Secretary of Churches Together in Kings Lynn.