Where mercy and justice meet


One of the ways in which churches tackle poverty in Britain today is by frontline support for those in need, especially those facing a crisis. But another equally important aspect of helping the most vulnerable in our communities is influencing those who make decisions that affect them, whether it be your local MP, the leader of your council, your district’s chief police officer, or head teachers at local schools. Archbishop Desmond Tutu famously said: “There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.” Churches have a vital role to play in not only alleviating poverty, but in finding out the root causes and working to address them. This happens at a local level and in the area of public policy. We may not all be William Wilberforces, but we can all play a part in working with local decision-makers and contributing to national discussions around key issues of poverty and justice. We can do this by building relationships with decision-makers, but also by taking seats of influence ourselves, whether that is as school governors, members of residents’ associations, sitting on local steering committees or running for office. As well as this, churches often act as community hubs in important ways for many who lack a sense of community.

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