It's pretty clear in almost every page of this edition of The Magazine that the consistent question is: how is it that in an era of plenty, there is yet so much poverty? And is there anything we can do about it?
Jesus’ response to Judas, “you will always have the poor with you,” has proved grimly prophetic. It is partly because any structuring of society will have both “sinkers” and “risers”, and partly because greed and selfishness seem ever-present realities.
The contrasts are extreme, and you don’t have to look all that far to find them. I see them when I go to Papua New Guinea (which I do again this September, amongst other things seeking out next year’s Lent Appeal Project); but they are here in Norfolk as well, both in deprived urban areas and in parts of our rural communities too.
Does it have to be like this? Is poverty solely about lack of economic wealth? Where do spiritual poverty, the poverty of loneliness, the poverty of time to breathe deeply, relax with those we love, or to fulfil properly the range of possibilities within us fit in? Or the poverty of a childhood that fails to flourish for a variety of different reasons?
And are there things we could or should be doing? The encouraging truth is that many things are being done both by people in our wider communities, and by people in our churches. We hear of a wide variety of them at meetings of the Social Community and Environmental Concerns Forum.
Recently a shared initiative with the Church Urban Fund, which we call Imagine Norfolk Together, has harnessed commitment to several new ventures in Great Yarmouth and King’s Lynn, including the provision of Winter Night Shelters in both towns. In both these towns, in many others, and in Norwich itself, some remarkable things are being done.
We have recently said goodbye and thank you to Sir Richard Jewson as Lord Lieutenant of the county. At his farewell, we heard something of the growth of the Norfolk Community Foundation over the last 15 years. It supports the work of hundreds of charities across the county, big and small, church and secular – all seeking in various ways to alleviate poverty.
At its inception Sir Richard, newly appointed, stuck his neck out and said, “This is something I am going to put my shoulder to. There were plenty of people saying: ‘Wait, see how it goes; don’t risk your early reputation on something that’s untested.’” It was a significant piece of reaching out. The Community Foundation is now well established and seeking still to do more: to continue reaching out to the furthest corners of the diocese and county.
In the end “reaching out” is a very large part of the response that’s needed – in practical help, in understanding of the particular poverty, with money sometimes, and more often with time and care. Jesus is God’s act of reaching out to us. Poverty of so many types is eased when we join in that reaching out.
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Articles in this issue...
The Revd Fiona Haworth, assistant priest at St Peter Mancroft in Norwich city centre, shares her everyday faith journey with an emphasis on making a difference worldwide.More
Fighting food poverty by using plenty
Food Banks have become a familiar sight in the landscape of our country - many run by churches in this Diocese. Food poverty is a fact of life, alongside food waste. A different initiative that is attempting to deal with both issues is the community fridge network. Here Damon Rogers and Isaac Sibanda share their story of how this is impacting their neighbourhoods.More
Frugal Innovation: how to do more and better with less
Keith James looks at what we might learn from a growing informal, grassroots movement.More
Offering shelter and hope in King’s Lynn
Project Co-ordinator Lucy McKitterick looks back over the first year of the King's Lynn Winter Nightshelter.More
The House that shames us
After a helter-skelter, what might you next find in Norwich Cathedral? Andy Bryant tells us: the answer is a house. At first glance it might be tempting to assume that this is a rather happy dwelling, a house wrapped in multi-coloured scarves. But behind the seemingly cosy image is another story. This is a house that should shame us.More
What is poverty?
Simply a lack of money to pay your way - or more extensively no access to health provision, education, safe water and housing? Or is it an emptiness of spirit or loneliness? Biddy Collyer hosted a discussion with Anna Heydon, Peter Howard and Lorie Lain-Rogers to tease out the definition of poverty in a world of plenty.More
“When he saw the man, he felt compassion for him…”
It has become an unavoidable fact that homelessness in the UK has grown massively since 2010. There is a housing crisis because we do not have affordable housing. Housing available for rent, let alone to buy.More