Church in Fife hosts emergency cost of living crisis summit
Published on 3 November 2022 3 minutes read
An emergency summit to discuss the cost of living crisis is being held in Fife this weekend.
The Poverty Hearing Day at Wellesley Parish Church Centre in Methil on Saturday will provide an opportunity for people to network, share information and learn how to work better together against the "evil of poverty".
Organised by Fife Presbytery, the public event from 10am-3.30pm will feature powerful testimonies from people who are worst affected by a catastrophic increase in basic living costs.
Cuts in Universal Credit, inadequate uprating of benefits in the face of accelerating inflation and horrendous increases in the cost of energy is plunging low-income families further into poverty.
Very Rev Dr Martin Fair, Moderator of the General Assembly 2020-21 and minister of St Andrew's Parish Church in Arbroath, and former Prime Minister Gordon Brown will be the keynote speakers at the event which is being streamed online.
The ex-MP, the national Church of Scotland and other campaigners are calling on the UK Government to take urgent action to bridge the cost of living gap because the support being offered falls far short of making up for recent changes to living costs and benefits faced by a couple with two children.
Churches host warm hubs
The summit was originally scheduled to take place in September but was postponed as a mark of respect following the death of Queen Elizabeth.
It comes as Church congregations across the country turn halls into warm hubs for people to visit during the day to keep warm instead of shivering in cold homes that they cannot afford to heat and light.
Speaking ahead of the Poverty Hearing, which bears the slogan ‘if people work together we've got a chance', Dr Fair said: "The Church is committed to the Five Marks of Mission, the third of which is ‘to respond to human need by loving service.'
"Addressing poverty is where those fine sounding words become reality.
"I'm honoured to be taking part in the Poverty Hearing and much is possible when people get together.
"But while I hope there is consensus and unity of purpose among the delegates, let there be a simmering anger that our country continues to be so divided."
The summit is being spearheaded by Fife Presbytery's Poverty Task Force which is convened by Rev Jane Barron.
She said: "When Jesus said ‘the poor are always with us, he was urging a generous response and that is what Fife Presbytery is calling for because families and individuals are facing a catastrophic rise in basic living costs.
"Many congregations and organisations in Fife have been working to help people trapped in poverty since the financial crash in 2008.
"We thought times were tough then but the recent and seemingly unending price hikes and soaring costs of the most basic items for survival are catapulting too many into Dickensian times and conditions."
Working better together
The event will be attended by representatives of other faith groups and a range of organisations that support people living in poverty will have stands so people can learn more about their work.
They include Fife Council, the Church of Scotland Priority Areas group and Christians Against Poverty.
Jacky Close, director of Faith in Community Dundee, will be taking part in the summit under the theme"One storm, many boats".
"Churches, Third Sector organisations, local councils and others are looking for ways to work more closely together than ever in a bid to offer assistance," she said.
"The Hearing Day is all about networking, sharing information and discovering ways of working better together against the evil that's eating at too many lives.
"Congregations, in particular, will be looking for hands-on ways to get involved and be part of what we hope is a growing, generous response."
Mr Brown, the son of a Church of Scotland minister and former leader of the Labour Party, will highlight and discuss a new project he is backing called The Big Hoose Fife Project.
It ensures that surplus retail goods destined for landfill are given to low-income families instead.
The Big Hoose Fife Project is co-ordinated by a charity called The Cottage Family Centre and supported by the Church in Fife, a region said to have one of the worst child poverty rates in the country.
The Wellesley Centre has seating capacity for 120 people and those interested in attending should RSVP by emailing email@example.com.