‘Combating poverty – what are faith groups doing? What more can they do?’

This conference took place at Wells Town Hall on Thursday 20 June 2013.

Faith groups play a vital role in relieving social hardship. The conference took up the effects of the current and planned welfare benefit changes, what can be done to alleviate any hardship resulting from these changes and what they can do to work in partnership with community groups and public bodies.See the poster here. A brief summary of the proceedings, with an action plan is now here.

Presentations included:
Paul Morrison from the Joint Public Issues Team: Baptist, Methodist and United Reformed Churches, was unable to be present, but his presentation was ably given by David Maggs, talking about their recent report ‘Truth and Lies about poverty’ and the importance of speaking the truth about poverty and it’s causes. This report gained national prominence over Easter in churches responses to the welfare benefit changes.

Julia Hill talking about her work with the Church Urban Fund in bringing churches together to provide foodstores and other responses to poverty by churches in Somerset.

Rick Szur from the Somerset Advice Network on the financial advice available in Somerset and the role of their Information Hubs, which direct people to where they can get the advice they need.

A presentation on the role of the Voluntary Sector Partnership in Somerset and the benefits it gives to faith groups and other community organisations.

A presentation from the Somerset Equality Officers group on the important role of faith groups in signposting people to where they can get advice on the welfare benefit changes.

There was plenty of animated discussion and a network of interested individuals and groups was born, one outcome of which is this website.

This conference was organised by Faithnetsouthwest, with the support of the Social Justice and Environmental Adviser for the Anglican Diocese of Bath and Wells, David Maggs, and was funded by the Somerset Voluntary Sector Partnership. It was an excellent opportunity to showcase the work of churches in Somerset and to build opportunities to work in partnership with each other and with other community and statutory organisations. 

Copies of the main presentations are available here.