Fife Presbytery holds emergency cost of living summit
Published on 31 August 2022 4 minutes read
Fife Presbytery is hosting an emergency summit to discuss the cost of living crisis because too many people are being "catapulted into Dickensian times and conditions".
The Poverty Hearing Day at Wellesley Parish Church Centre in Methil will provide an opportunity for people to network, share information and learn how to work better together against the "evil of poverty".
The public event on the 10th of September from 10am-3pm 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.
Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Rt Rev Dr Iain Greenshields, Moderator of the General Assembly, will be the keynote speakers.
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.
Trapped in poverty
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.
"Getting hold of affordable food to feed children and families is the hardest hitting problem in the county - even in households where two people have full-time jobs."
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.
Working together against evil
Jacky Close, director of Faith in Community Dundee, will be taking part in the summit under the banner "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."
Dr Greenshields has taken a break from his role as the minister of St Margaret's Community Church in Dunfermline to represent the national Church for 12 months.
He said: "If ever there was an opportunity for the Church to say something to Scotland it is in this crisis, as so many churches did during Covid.
"Not to desert the poor and hope that someone else will do something but to take personal responsibility for those whose need is greatest.
"We need to use our muscle to speak to power - to nag MP's, MSP's, councillors and others and be proactive and not reactive in this time of desperate need."
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.
Mr Brown said: "In just eight months from starting our local pilot project in Fife, which houses the Dunfermline Amazon warehouse, we have provided support to over 33,787 families and distributed over 210,129 goods worth around £4 million.
"We are working with 400 local organisations - charities, schools, health centres and social work teams - who are all using their referral systems to make sure we get goods to children and families who need them.
"We have created links with churches and faith groups and with the business community who are now engaged as enthusiastic partners in our project.
"Goods that are surplus to the retailer and destined for waste are beginning to transform lives; from crockery to cots beds to blinds and shoes to seating."