Saturday, 18 October 2014

On our doorstep #childpoverty

I received a bit of a jolt yesterday when my attention was drawn to a report by the Essex Chronicle stating that nearly 30% of children in some parts of Chelmsford are growing up in poverty. However, this was the statement that really hit home:
According to the data the highest levels of child poverty in the city can be found in the Marconi ward, with 29.12% of youngsters growing up poor, after housing costs after taken into consideration. This is closely followed by the St Andrews area, with 27.4%, Great Baddow West with 26.5% and Great Baddow East with 22.34%.  
Great Baddow West and East, that's our parish! I was aware of pockets of deprivation in the parish but not to that extent. The Church Urban Fund statistics for our parish state that overall child poverty is at 17%, however, this report highlights the seriousness of the situation.

Child poverty is defined in the following way:
The percentage of children living in families in receipt of out of work benefits or tax credits, where their reported income is less than 60% of the national median income (a commonly accepted measure of poverty).
Earlier this year at St. Mary's we set up a Foodbank distribution centre which is much used; we support the work of Chelmsford CHESS with the homeless and the church council has decided in principle to establish a credit union service point, though the limitations of our present buildings have so far prevented us implementing that decision. Our sister churches St. Paul's and Meadgate are involved in similar work.  However, we need to reflect prayerfully on what other ways we can help address this blight on the lives of many in our parish as we seek to be the Good News of Jesus Christ to our community.

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