Fr Chris Hughes explains,

In September of last year, a journalist from the Catholic Journal, The Tablet, Madoc Carins, stayed with me for four days to explore how the Church is responding to the cost-of-living crisis in the area. In his article on his time in the northeast he wrote,

I felt sharply and clearly that poverty is a process as well as a state; a set of choices that narrow and narrow till nothing of life is left. Past the din of the headlines and the rising prices and the bills piling up, if you listened, carefully, you could hear doors shut across the country.

For Poverty Action Sunday on February organised by Church Action on Poverty, we acknowledge how the Church can keep the door open for others and work in partnership with those who doing the same, as they support people during the cost-of-living crisis.

Church Action on Poverty Northeast are organising an event for Poverty Action Sunday. This will be at St Cuthbert’s Church, Albion Road West, North Shields, NE29 0JB on Sunday 19 February at 3.00pm. The event will be a combination of prayer, shared experience, song, prayer, music and poetry to acknowledge the reality of those struggling during this current crisis.

There will be a number of people and organisations speaking who are seeking to keep these ‘doors’ open for people. This will include representatives from the Bay Food Bank, Gateshead Poverty Truth Commission, The Baby Bank from St John’s CofE Church, Percy Main, North Shields, Shiremoor Savers, Tyne and Wear Citizens and the local MP for Tynemouth, The Rt Hon Sir Alan Campbell.

It is the conviction that poverty destroys people’s deep sense of dignity, agency and power. In addressing the symptoms and causes of poverty we as followers of Christ need to ensure that people’s dignity, power and agency is restored and affirmed. When these essential aspects of a person’s humanity is damaged then we all have a duty to address these symptoms and causes of this sad erosion of people’s worth and value. During this event, which will last just over an hour, we focus on how the detrimental aspects of poverty impact on the lives and development of Children.

As Madoc Cairns stated in the same article

In 2021, data from the Institute for Public Policy Research showed that the proportion of working households in the UK classified as in-poverty was higher than it had ever been. That same year, new poverty statistics were released. The number of children in poverty in Newcastle had increased to 42 per cent, the highest rate anywhere in Britain. In places like North Shields, it’s more than 50 per cent, and still rising.

There are staggering and sad statistics. It is hard to imagine the corrosive impact all this has on children and society. In talking to those in our schools, there is no doubt on the damage being inflicted on children.

However, through my experience of work with communities and seeking to organise across civic society, people working together can address the impact of poverty. The great success of the Living Wage campaign can show what can be done when people come together giving themselves the power to make a difference.

So, if you want to hear about the issues but also be part of the solution, please join us on Sunday 19 February at 3.00pm at St Cuthbert’s North Shields. You will hear about difficult experiences but gathering in Christ we will also celebrate hope, that lives can be transformed, doors can be opened and lost sense of dignity, agency and power can and will be restored.

For more information, please contact me, Fr Chris Hughes by tel: 0191 257 5801 or email: