Report from ‘To Accompany Refugees’, Westminster Social Justice and Peace Forum, 17th September 2022

Watch Bishop Paul McAleenan’s Summary of the ‘To Accompany Refugees’ Forum meeting

On Saturday, 17th September people from around the Diocese of Westminster joined Bishop Nicholas Hudson and Bishop Paul McAleenan for the Westminster Social Justice and Peace Forum on Zoom.

The theme of the forum was ‘To Accompany Refugees’, and took place on the weekend proceeding World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

The forum was chaired by Bishop Nicholas Hudson who underlined that this was an opportunity to explore what the response in the ecclesial community in Westminster has been.

The session was opened in prayer by Barbara Kentish. Barbara adopted a prayer that she uses at the Justice and Peace Vigils that she organises outside of the Home Office. During the forum there were presentations from the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), Compassionate Communities, Newman Catholic College and St Bartholemew’s Church in St Albans.

Watch the Speaker Presentations

Megan Knowles, Communications and Development Manager for JRS UK, spoke about the experience of accompanying refugees in an increasingly hostile world. She spoke about the primary work of JRS being accompaniment, and specifically the accompaniment of people experiencing destitution as a result of being given no recourse to public funds. This looks like ‘being with, rather than doing for’. She spoke about how people at this point in the asylum system are in a ‘legal-limbo’, isolated with significantly reduced access to healthcare during a prolonged and anxiety inducing time. JRS supports in a variety of ways, including having a hosting scheme, a pantry and befriending.

Pattie Gercke is the Development Worker for Compassionate Communities, which is the social action arm of the Diocese of London. Pattie presented from the ecumenical perspective and how churches in the Diocese of London are engaged in the welcome of people seeking sanctuary. Ecumenism was a strong theme of the forum. Pattie shared that church response looked like practical support such as access to work, ESOL provision, hosting, education, healthcare, digital access, provision of food, clothing as well as legal and rights-based support. The value, however, of non-material forms of support was highlighted; for instance the importance of relationship, sitting, sharing space, listening and providing spaces of welcome. Further, it was highlighted that churches are repositories of social capital and that this social capital can be used to support integration. The importance of enabling a wider audience to hear the stories and theologies of people in the asylum system was discussed.

The forum then heard from Danny Coyle who presented the school experience, specifically the transformation of Newman Catholic College in Brent when they became a school of sanctuary. There had been an immediate positive effect of welcoming and integration sanctuary seeking pupils and their parents in the school. They developed a unique and bespoke curriculum to meet the needs of those coming from overseas from conflict zones. There was a particular focus on language which enables pupils to unlock other parts of the curriculum, which pupils were keen to embrace. The academic needs of pupils are placed alongside their emotional needs, and pupils are entered onto different pathways. The school has a Refugee Coordinator. Support of Caritas Westminster for the school’s annual Syria Summer Camp, where pupils take part in varied and enriching activities. These camps have gone from strength to strength with volunteers from a sanctuary seeking background being involved. The key takeaway was that if correct structures are put in place, refugee students and their families can flourish.

The final presentation came from Teresa Clarke who is a parishioner at St Bartholemew’s Parish in St Albans who is directly involved in refugee accompaniment through the Church’s conversation group. Teresa shared how ecumenical work, as well as responsiveness to the needs of the asylum seekers that they are supporting has transformed the project. The group provides emotional and practical support to asylum seeking men at a local hotel and works with 10% of residents. The value of engagement with local MPs was underlined, with the group having strong connections with Daisy Cooper MP. The group is part of a network with other churches in the area providing support. The group hold forums to hold the hotel to account with regards to need for good food and appropriate clothing for the guests. Alongside this the group held a refugees Information Exchange where asylum seekers shared experiences and information, offering help and support. There is a significant challenge of transport, where the location of Noake hotel is a barrier to asylum seekers making connections in the city. This lead to an initiative whereby spare bikes were donated, and so far, the project has received 55 bikes which are fully serviced by a bike mechanic.  Herts County Council are offering Bike Ability training while the conversation group support as they gain confidence in these sessions.

After the presentations, attendees went into breakout rooms with each of the speakers to discuss questions relating to the topics that had been presented. These were:

What are the most effective ways to assist refugee and migrant groups, what are the challenges and what else can we do?

It was an opportunity for discussion before joining back with the main group to share experiences, observations and questions.

Plenary Feedback

  • How to balance being with and doing with. Context of the whole person. How to accompany people who have and are experiencing trauma.
  • Partner with expert services.
  • How to support people, especially women facing domestic violence.
  • Ecumenical working and that how could operate
  • Joined up working between churches, looking at modeling St Albans, not working elsewhere necessarily.
  • Working alongside interfaith groups
  • Joined up working
  • Campaigning and advocacy more difficult, fundamental systems change – HO not listening.
  • Range of needs for refugees and asylum seekers, different circumstances and needs.
  • Challenges because of the cost of living. Need of financial assistance, winter, facing difficulties.
  • Challenges getting churches to communicate.
  • What else can we do – sharing information, what is going on where.
  • Need for greater awareness of what is going on for asylum seekers.
  • Hard to balance the media portrayal of refugee help as a very hard thing;
  • How to keep people compassionate enough to help?
  • Keep learning from other people and always try to be flexible;
  • The best answer to the question is to share experiences.
  • How to stop the work of helping people from being overwhelming?
  • Think of how we speak about these matters language wise.

The Forum was summed up by Bishop Paul McAleenan, lead bishop for Migrant Issues, saying ‘Refugees are not statistics, but heart and flesh, human beings who must be helped.’

Westminster Caritas Refugees and Migrants Mailing List

Rosa Lewis, the Caritas Westminster Lead for Refugees and Migrants, convenes a quarterly meeting for everyone in the Diocese of Westminster concerned about refugees and migrants. To be added to her mailing list please email rosalewis@rcdow.org.uk

Home Office Prayer Vigils

You are warmly invited to join Barbara Kentish (Westminster Justice & Peace), Br Johannes Maertens (London Catholic Worker) and others to participate at the vigils outside the Home Office or to pray along at home on the third Monday of every month, 12.30-1.30pm.

Next Vigil: Monday 17th October 2022, 12.30-1.30pm

Venue: Home Office, Marsham Street, SW1P 4DF

Contact: Barbarakentish@talktalk.net  or johanmaertens@hotmail.com    

At the vigils we remember:

  • those who have died trying to reach the UK. 
  • victims of the war in Ukraine.
  • workers with asylum seekers in detention centres.
  • those supporting homeless migrants.
  • those struggling to inject welcome and humanity into our legislation.

Links

Also reported on Independent Catholic News –
https://www.indcatholicnews.com/news/45517

Together With Refugees – Fill the Skies with Hope campaign, 23rd September – 9th November 2022. Coalition action across the UK to end the Rwanda Deportations plan.
https://togetherwithrefugees.org.uk/fill-the-skies-with-hope/

Bishop John Sherrington’s reflections on this year’s visit to Syria Summer Camp, hosted by Newman Catholic College
https://rcdow.org.uk/news/summer-camp-helps-refugee-children-find-a-safe-home/

World Day of Migrants and Refugees – Sunday 25th September 2022

Photo: Mazur/CBCEW.org.uk

The World Day of Migrants and Refugees is celebrated in Catholic parishes on Sunday, 25th September 2022.

Sunday An International Mass to mark the day will be celebrated in Westminster Cathedral on 25th September at 5.30pm by Cardinal Vincent Nichols.

Monday – Home Office Vigil. Westminster Justice and Peace will again join London Catholic Worker and others outside the Home Office, 2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF, on Monday 26th September (postponed from 19th September, owing to the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II) from 12.30-1.30pm for a vigil to remember all those who have died seeking sanctuary in Europe and to pray for justice for all migrants and refugees in the UK. All are welcome to join us.

Message from Bishop Paul McAleenan

Source: RCDOW

Bishop Paul McAleenan, Auxiliary Bishop in Westminster and Lead Bishop for Migrants and Refugees for the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, has recorded the following message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees:

Transcription

Hello and greetings to everyone.

I am Bishop Paul McAleenan, the Lead Bishop for Migrants and Refugees at the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

Every year, the Church throughout the world devotes a day to migrants and refugees. This year, 2022, the day will be celebrated on Sunday, 25 September. You may think that this day, WDMR, as it’s called, World Day of Migrants and Refugees, is in response to the coverage of new arrivals to our country and migration. In fact, the World Day of Migrants and Refugees has been held annually since 1914, an indication that displacement from one’s homeland has long been a feature of life for many people.

This day is an opportunity for Catholics throughout the world to remember and pray for those who are displaced through war, poverty and persecution, and also to raise awareness of the fact that migration offers opportunity to many people. It benefits many.

In 2020, Pope Francis, in his message, said, if we wish to promote those whom we wish to assist, then we must involve them and make them agents of their own redemption. In his message for this year, 2022, the Holy Father expands on those words by choosing the theme ‘Building the Future with Migrants and Refugees’.

In our parishes and in our neighbourhoods, we can see that migration is a reality. There are many people from other countries. Pope Francis appeals to us to adopt an attitude of welcome to those who live among us, reminding us that they can revitalise our communities and enliven celebrations in our parishes. Their presence is a witness to the Catholicity of God’s people. Without undermining or devaluing our own culture and values, we are asked to be open to the treasure and the variety of gifts that migrants and refugees bring to our communities.

It is edifying that many parishes are reaching out to migrants and refugees. I know of one group who, motivated by their faith and working ecumenically, invite migrants and refugees to English language conversation classes. That is an example of how Pope Francis’s call to build the future together is being lived out.

Two other events have taken place which portray the Church’s commitment to migrants and refugees. In March of this year, the Papal Nuncio, that is the Pope’s representative to Great Britain, visited Napier Barracks in Folkestone, where a number of people are housed. He spent time with them. He conveyed to them both the concern and the best wishes of Pope Francis. He returned at a later date to present a Papal Blessing personally signed by the Holy Father.

In October 2021, a 3.5-metre high puppet called Amal was welcomed in Westminster Cathedral to music and dance and a great atmosphere of prayer.

In cathedrals and parish halls and holding centres, the love of God has been extended to those who are marginalised, to those who are poor, and in need, and I thank everyone involved in this wonderful work.

We are also grateful to those who, using their professional expertise advocate the cause of migrants and refugees, in weighty matters and in smaller but essential ways.

The love of God has been extended and migrants and refugees are receiving a welcome from God’s people and encouragement, which is much needed. It is work that must increase and must continue.

I ask you to pray and to remember migrants, refugees, displaced persons: through war, persecution, climate change and all those on the move seeking a better life.

On Sunday, 25 September, the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, may God give us all of the grace to work
together with migrants and refugees to build a better future.

Prayer

A prayer that we will build the future together with migrants and refugees…

Lord, make us bearers of hope,
so that where there is darkness, Your light may shine.
And where there is discouragement, confidence in the future may be reborn.

Lord, make us instruments of Your justice,
so that where there is exclusion, fraternity may flourish
and where there is greed, a spirit of sharing may grow.

Lord, make us builders of Your kingdom
together with migrants and refugees
and with all who dwell on the peripheries.

Lord, let us learn how beautiful it is
to live together as brothers and sisters.

Amen.

Message from Pope Francis for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2022

Report from the Southern Dioceses Network Meeting 12th September 2022

Southern Dioceses Environment Network 12th September 2022: Presentation by Shanon Shah, Director, Faith for the Climate

We were delighted to welcome Shanon Shah, the Director of Faith for the Climate, as our guest speaker for the first meeting this term of the Southern Dioceses Environment Network.

Faith for the Climate is a network that aims to equip, inspire, and encourage faith inspired action on issues of climate change across the UK. All faiths and spiritualities are welcome.

Shanon Shah is a Malaysian Muslim who came to the UK in 2010. He joined the team at Faith for the Climate in 2020.

The organisation aims to unite those of faith together in the environmental justice space and to encourage learning from the different faith traditions. It was a way to target the UK government and show solidarity with those who suffer the worse impact of climate change despite doing the least to contribute.

The group meet regularly online with two priorities in the lead up to COP-26: new and additional money for loss and damage, ending fossil fuel subsidies. The UK government has made some progress with the second focus, therefore, most energy was focused on loss and damage.

Loss and Damage is part of the architecture of the Paris Agreement which includes three main pillars of climate action; mitigation of climate emissions, adaption to live with the impact of climate change, loss and damage. Loss and damage is when the impact of climate change is so severe that adaption/mitigation is not possible e.g. as a result of sea level rises, extreme weather events.

The UK government has historically blocked negotiations on loss and damage.

At COP-19, in 2013, the Warsaw international mechanism for Loss and damage was established in response to the typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. At COP-25 in Madrid, the Santiago network on loss and damage was established to implement the Warsaw mechanism. It called for richer countries to offer compensation. At COP-26, there was a push for clarity on how the Santiago network would be implemented.

The Glasgow Dialogue on Loss and Damage was established post COP-26. Many questions on how to address the issue are undecided, but it is climbing the agenda with the first awareness day last year. This is largely due to the efforts of faith communities.

The UK has faced financial difficulty this year due to the war in Ukraine, cost of living crisis etc. which has made it more difficult to talk about loss and damage. Despite our own issues we must not forget countries such as Pakistan which is now 1/3 under water with the displacement of 50 million people and 10 billion US dollars’ worth of damage. These poorer countries are suffering the worst effects of climate change despite contributing the least. The impacts of extreme weather events are far greater for them and they are still struggling with debt.

It seems only fair that the big polluters have the most responsibility to pay compensation for loss and damage. It is a moral issue that lies at the centre of many faiths; we are all interconnected.

The next Loss and Damage Awareness Day will be on the 22nd September; including a walk of witness to Parliament Square via the Shell headquarters. Gathering at St. John’s Church, Waterloo, 10.30am. It will join those doing an interfaith fast for loss and damage.

22 September – Loss and Damage Awareness Day
10.30am Meet at St John’s Waterloo, 73 Waterloo Rd, London SE1 8TY
11.30am Walk to the Shell headquarters for a vigil
12.00pm Walk to Parliament Square
Loss and Damage Day of Action London

We then broke into small groups to consider the question: “In what ways does the topic of Loss and Damage resonate with this year’s theme for the Season of Creation – Listen to the Voice of Creation?”

Links

Faith for the Climate
Loss and Damage Day of Action London
Southern Dioceses Environment Network
Key Climate Dates in 2022

The Journey to 2030 website has been revamped with several sections for new resources. Check it out at:

https://journeyto2030.org new homepage
https://journeyto2030.org/let-us-dream/ let us dream activity*
https://journeyto2030.org/getting-started-2/ The new getting started and resources page
https://journeyto2030.org/poster-activity/ – The ‘building a caring community’ activity poster page

*You can order packs of the ‘Let Us Dream’ activity to use with your church group / parish.

The next meeting of the Southern Dioceses Environment Network is on Monday 10th October, 12.45-2.00pm. Register with Eventbrite

Home Office Vigil postponed from Monday 19th to Monday 26th September, 12.30pm

Monday 19th September is a bank holiday for the funeral of the Queen. RIP.  There will be no workers in offices, reduced travel services (as on normal bank holidays perhaps), and many will be watching events on TV. It seems sensible therefore to hold our Vigil for migrants and asylum seekers on Monday 26th September at 12.30pm, outside the Home Office, 2 Marsham St, London SW1P 4DF. 

This has the advantage of being the day after the Vatican World Day of Refugees, whose theme is, ‘Building the Future with Migrants and Refugees.’ 

I I look forward to seeing you all, 

With good wishes, 

Barbara Kentish
barbarakentish@talktalk.net

Event Moved Online – Saturday 17th September 2022, 10.30am-1pm, ‘To Accompany Refugees’ Westminster Social Justice and Peace Forum

 NB – Owing to the planned rail strikes on Saturday, 17th September 2022, this event has been moved online. Participants will be able to log-on from 10.15am and the meeting will start at 10.30am

All are invited to join Bishops Nicholas Hudson and Paul McAleenan to explore our Diocesan response to refugees. Guest speakers giving input and facilitating discussion will include:

Megan Knowles: Communications and Development Manager at the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) – Megan manages a team of staff and volunteers responsible for raising awareness and amplifying the voices and experiences of refugees, which can lead to positive changes in their lives. Megan also leads on fundraising at JRS and her varied role takes her across the UK speaking to schools, parishes and communities about the work of JRS and the importance of welcoming refugees in our own communities.

Teresa Clarke: St Bartholomew’s Church, St Alban’s, Herts – There are 140 asylum seekers housed near St Alban’s and the ecumenical group of South St Alban’s Churches has been organising English conversation groups for some of them since January 2022. These groups have led to closer links with St Alban’s Cathedral and Greenwood United Reformed Church. They have developed networks with other organisations, such as the Jesuit Refugee Service, Herts Welcomes Refugees and the local MP’s office, and look forward to sharing their learning.

Invitation from Bishop Paul McAleenan ‘To Accompany Refugees’:

In his message for World Day of Migrants 2014 Pope Francis wrote, We ourselves need to see, and then to enable others to see, that migrants and refugees do not only represent a problem to be solved, but are brothers and sisters to be welcomed, respected and loved’.

Undeniably, the displacement of people due to war, poverty and persecution is a major problem. The victims are our brothers and sisters. It is our Christian duty to enable them find a home where their basic needs are met and an environment where they can flourish. A truly Christian approach towards refugees seeks not only to provide but also to communicate a welcome, to accompany them on their journey.

How are we to move ‘Towards a Better World’, the title of Pope Francis’ 2014 message? As those seeking shelter and sanctuary continue to arrive on our shores, Westminster Social Justice and Peace Forum invites you to be part of the solution and To Accompany Refugees.

New Prime Minster faces the ultimate first job

Source: Christian CND

By Russell Whiting|Published 

As Liz Truss prepares to take the reigns in Downing Street – Christian CND Development Manager Russell Whiting examines one of her first jobs as Prime Minister.

After months of campaigning and endless talk in the media, Liz Truss has now been elected as Leader of the Conservative Party and will take up the position of Prime Minster after visiting the Queen later in the week.

Much has been made throughout the campaign of the various crises facing the new Prime Minster, from energy costs, Ukraine and the wider cost-of-living crisis. Yet little has been said about one of the first duties Liz Truss will undertake when she arrives in Downing Street as Prime Minister for the first time.

Before any announcements on the economy, or even the appointment of the cabinet, Ms Truss will be asked by Senior Civil Servants to write the ‘letters of last resort’  – instructions for the submariners aboard the UK’s nuclear-armed Trident submarines in the event of an attack on the UK.

During a hustings in Birmingham Ms Truss said she was “ready” to give the instructions to launch nuclear weapons, despite the host prefacing his question by saying “it would cause global annihilation”. Despite the gung-ho rhetoric in public, we will never actually know what the letters say. As soon as Ms Truss has written her letters the ones delivered on behalf of Boris Johnson in 2019 will be destroyed without being opened.

According to an article in The Guardian in 2016 the options for the submarine commanders are “Put yourself under the command of the US, if it is still there”, “Go to Australia”, “Retaliate”, or “Use your own judgement”.

The issue of whether or not a politician would “press the button” to launch a nuclear attack has become increasingly political in the past decade – and especially since Jeremy Corbyn said he would not give the instructions were he to become Prime Minister.

Writing to Timothy in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul gives us clear advice on what our response to the new Prime Minister should be. We are to offer “petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving” for everyone, including “kings and all those in authority” which he says “is good, and pleases God our Savior”. While that instruction is always applicable, regardless of our own views about any Prime Minister’s policy agenda, we should be especially fervent in our prayers this week as Ms Truss prepares to undertake this most solemn duty, away from the political and media pressure to act tough.

Westminster Justice and Peace Newsfeed on Nuclear Disarmament

Pax Christi England and Wales seeks new CEO

Pax Christi is an international Catholic movement for peace, based on the gospel, inspired by faith and Catholic Social Teaching.

The well-established British section of Pax Christi works within the Church, with ecumenical partners and with all who are putting into practice the work of peace, built on justice, reconciliation, and active nonviolence.

Chief Executive Officer

Pax Christi England and Wales are looking to appoint a creative and energetic peacemaker to be responsible for developing, co-ordinating and implementing the work of their membership organisation.

If you would be interested in applying for this post, please follow the link to the Pax Christi website: https://paxchristi.org.uk/work-for-us/

Completed application forms should be sent with a covering letter to chair@paxchristi.org.uk

Closing Date:   30th September 2022

Successful applicants will be informed by 7th October 2022

Interviews will be on Friday 14th/ Monday 17th October.

If you would like more information, please contact admin@paxchristi.org.uk

Cardinal’s Message to the new Prime Minister

In a statement marking the announcement of a new Prime Minister today, Cardinal Vincent Nichols assures PM Liz Truss of his prayerful support and stresses that the needs of the poorest in society must be given urgent attention.

Source: CBCEW

As President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, I offer my congratulations to Liz Truss on her election as leader of the Conservative Party and her consequent appointment as Prime Minister. I wish to assure the Prime Minister of my prayerful support.

Her appointment comes at a time when many crises have to be faced, at home and across the world. Prominent among them is the crisis in the cost of living.

Catholics are present in every local community, seeking to contribute constantly to the support of those in need. So we are well aware of the dramatic impact this crisis is having, with many people knowing they face choices between ‘heating or eating’, especially as winter approaches. The affluence to which our society has become accustomed seems to be seeping away.

I, and my fellow bishops, recognise the complexity of the causes, both short and long-term, that bring about the crisis now affecting so many. There are many Catholics in public life and in the charitable sector who are engaging in trying to produce long-term solutions to these political and economic challenges.

Catholic Social Teaching

Catholic Social Teaching indicates key principles which help to fashion just solutions to urgent and dire need.

The principle of serving the common good means that the needs of the poorest in society must be given urgent attention. The time for giving priority to factional interests has passed. Today our focus should be on the elderly, families who have the care of children, and all those least able to absorb the huge increases in the cost of living that we face. This means giving immediate attention to issues such as the level of welfare benefits and the impact of the two-child cap on universal credit payments, among other possible actions. Businesses too, especially small businesses, are facing acute challenges and will need help to survive. Their support for employment and family income is crucial.

Similarly, the principle of subsidiarity can be applied to our centralised system of welfare and public services to make delivery more effective and more efficient. This principle, long part of the social teaching of the Catholic Church, seeks “the active participation of private individuals and civil society” through which “it is actually possible to improve social services and welfare programmes, and at the same time save resources” (Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate 60).

Parishes and Charities

The work of our local parishes, and of Catholic charitable agencies, is based on the firm conviction of the inherent dignity of every person. No one is to be cast aside or ‘discounted’. I am confident that throughout this crisis, the Catholic community will do all we can to act on this conviction and promote this principle.

I know that parishes will continue to do everything possible, including innovative ways of providing further material help and pastoral support. I also urge all Catholics to give whatever time and financial resources they can to charitable endeavours that support those who are affected by the current crisis. The work of Catholic schools, that have long been supportive of, and responsive to, children whose parents might be struggling financially or in other ways, is to be strongly applauded and encouraged.

The spiritual needs of the poor and their special gifts should never be forgotten. As Pope Francis wrote:

“The great majority of the poor have a special openness to the faith; they need God and we must not fail to offer them his friendship, his blessing, his word, the celebration of the sacraments and a journey of growth and maturity in the faith” (Evangelii Gaudium – The Joy of the Gospel – 200).

I trust that our parish communities will always be open to those suffering from hardship and in particular need of companionship and spiritual support at this time. They can help us to understand the humility we must have before God.

Finally, I ask that we all offer our prayers for those who are suffering from the cost of living crisis. I pray that all in our society will work together to find ways, both short and long term, to alleviate this crisis which threatens the well-being of so many people.

St. Thomas More, pray for all who serve in political and public life.

St. Bernadette, pray for the poor.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales

Westminster Justice and Peace among faith groups endorsing Loughborough University report urging government to act on cost of living crisis

Gordon Brown joins signatories

Source: University of Loughborough/ Independent Catholic News

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has joined with 56 faith groups, charities and politicians to call on the government to take urgent action to bridge the cost of living gap faced by the lowest income families.

The call responds to a report written by poverty expert and Loughborough University Professor Donald Hirsch which reveals the gap between the support the government is currently offering to households and the anticipated rise in living costs.

The report concludes that the current flat-rate payments offered by the government will fall at least £1,600 short of making up for recent changes to living costs and benefits faced by a couple with two children.

The report assesses the extent to which cost of living measures announced in May will compensate for three blows experienced by millions of low-income families: cuts in Universal Credit, inadequate uprating of benefits with accelerating inflation in April and the further rise in the energy cap anticipated in October.

It shows that the package of support measures falls well short of making up for these losses, even with the October increase in the cap.

The groups, supported by Gordon Brown, are urging the Government to consider appropriate measures to bridge the shortfall in family finances, which is only anticipated to rise into the winter months.

Some charities are calling for benefits to be uprated in line with inflation, and for debt deductions from Universal Credit to be paused.

The report is endorsed by 56 charities, faith groups and politicians, many of whom are providing front-line support for families hit by rising costs, including Archbishop Leo William Cushley, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, representatives of Caritas, Paul Southgate, Chair, National J&P Network and Fr Dominic Robinson SJ, Chair, Westminster J&P Commission.

It has also been endorsed by the Trussell Trust, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Child Poverty Action Group as well as the Methodist Church, the Bishop of Durham, the Hindu Council UK and the Muslim Council of Britain, Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford, Metro Mayors, Tracy Brabin of West Yorkshire, Andy Burnham of Greater Manchester, Jamie Driscoll of North Tyne Combined Authority, Sadiq Khan of Greater London, Dan Norris of West of England, Steve Rotheram of Liverpool City Region and Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees.

The report contains stories of first-hand experience of the impact of the rise in the cost of living. Lowri receives Universal Credit and cares for her father and daughter.

Her food and fuel bills have doubled, and she’s had to sell her daughter’s bike to make ends meet: “I have spent the last 5 years living in survival mode, just about surviving each day, worrying about money constantly.

“I am emotionally and mentally exhausted living like this. It is not living, merely existing. There is just no way people can manage to pay all their bills, and all we are doing is existing to pay bills. Terrified is an understatement.”

Prof Hirsch said: “The shortfall families are facing between skyrocketing costs and the support government have offered continues to grow. Families were falling behind with the anticipated rise in costs even when the measures were announced, and since then the food and energy costs forecast for this winter have continued to rise sharply.

“The flat rate emergency payments announced so far leave families with children particularly far behind, because they are not sensitive to the extra costs that children bring.

“A new package needs to address the fact that by the autumn, living costs could have risen by as much as 14% for low-income families, who have received only a 3% increase in benefits.

“An additional across-the-board uprating to Universal Credit and other benefits would address family need far more effectively than further flat rate payments.”

The former Prime Minister Gordon Brown commissioned the report, after facing the realities of rising costs alongside churches and charities in the UK

He said: “This is a crisis that Britain hasn’t seen in decades. The most urgent and immediate challenge for the incoming Prime Minister is to ensure that families with children and disabled people aren’t neglected to struggle through the challenges ahead.

“We need targeted support for families on the lowest incomes, not just cuts in taxes or flat rate payments which don’t account for the specific needs of people on the brink of poverty.

“There should be no argument that a permanent increase in Universal Credit is the only way to take a sure step towards a solution.

“This crisis goes far beyond politics; this is a moral issue – our responsibilities to our neighbours and in particular to those who have the least and whose needs are the greatest.

“The incoming Prime Minister has a moral responsibility to ensure that everyone has enough to live on, through this crisis and beyond. We cannot be at ease when millions are ill at ease and cannot rest content as long as there is so much discontent.

“Our society will be stronger when we help the weak and will be richer when we help the poor.”

Revd Graham Thompson, President of the Methodist Church in Britain, who have endorsed the report, said: “Churches and other faith groups are on the front line of offering support to families who are already being swept under by rising costs. We know that millions of families aren’t simply making hard choices between heating and eating, but are having to go without both completely.

“If people aren’t given enough support to live, we don’t dare to imagine what will happen this winter. The government now have a duty to step up and take firm and long-lasting action to ensure not only that this crisis doesn’t deepen, but that it doesn’t happen again.”

Read the report: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1CfrHnpSaT0Niyavldix0sRirbcd76leC/view?usp=sharing

The full list of signatories to the report is:

Rabbi Charley Baginsky, CEO, Liberal Judaism

Revd Fiona Bennett, Moderator of the General Assembly, United Reformed Church

Lord John Bird, Founder, The Big Issue

Anthony Boateng, Vice-President, The Methodist Church in Britain

Paul Bodenham, Programme Leader for Social Action, Caritas Diocese of Nottingham

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire

Nicola Brady, General Secretary, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester

Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham, Chair of ChurchWorks Commission on Covid Recovery

Heidi Chow, Executive Director, Debt Justice

John Coleby, CEO, Caritas Westminster

Niall Cooper, Director, Church Action on Poverty

Revd R Creswell, Chair, The Methodist Fund for Human Need

Archbishop Leo William Cushley, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh

Colin Date, Acting Chair, Christian Concern for One World

Claire Donovan, Campaigns Manager, End Furniture Poverty

Rt Hon Mark Drakeford MS, First Minister of Wales

Jamie Driscoll, Mayor of North Tyne Combined Authority

Andy Elvin, Chief Executive, TACT Fostering

Revd Archie Ford, Moderator, United Free Church of Scotland

Alison Garnham, Chief Executive, Child Poverty Action Group

Ben Gilchrist, CEO, Caritas Shrewsbury

Revd Lynn Green, General Secretary, Baptist Union of Great Britain

Revd James Green, Executive Director, Together Liverpool

Ruth Harvey Leader, The Iona Community

Mia Hasenson-Gross, Director, René Cassin

Rev Karen Hendry, Acting Convenor, Faith Impact Forum, Church of Scotland

Joseph Howes, Chair, End Child Poverty Coalition and CEO of Buttle UK

Imran Hussain, Director of Policy and Campaigns, Action for Children

Revd/Parchg Beti-Wyn James, President Union of Welsh Independents/Llywydd Undeb yr Annibynwyr Cymraeg

Archbishop Andrew John, Archbishop of Wales and Bishop of Bangor, Church in Wales

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

Rajnish Kashyap, General Secretary, Hindu Council UK

Peter Kelly, Director, Poverty Alliance

Paul Kissack, Chief Executive, Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Red Dr Ellen Loudon, Chair Together Liverpool

Peter Lynas, UK Director, Evangelical Alliance

Paul McNamee, Editor, The Big Issue

Jon Miles, Senior Development Worker, Transforming Communities Together

Zara Mohammed, Secretary-General, Muslim Council of Britain

Dan Norris, Mayor of the West of England

Elizabeth Palmer, CEO, St Vincent de Paul Society (England & Wales)

Taidgh Pledger, Political Officer, National Education Union

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol

Fr Dominic Robinson SJ, Chair, Justice & Peace Commission, Diocese of Westminster

Revd Paul Rochester, General Secretary, Free Churches Group

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region

Bishop Mike Royal, General Secretary, Churches Together in England

Rev Ian Rutherford, Chairperson, Greater Manchester Food Security Action Network

Adam Scorer, Chief Executive, National Energy Action

Paul Southgate, Chair, National Justice and Peace Network

Most Revd Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church

Paula Stringer, UK Chief Executive, Christians Against Poverty

Anna Taylor, Executive Director, Food Foundation

Revd Graham Thompson, President, Methodist Church in Britain

Anna Turley, Chair, North East Child Poverty Commission

Matthew Van Duyvenbode, CSO , Trussell Trust

Natalie Williams, Chief Executive, Jubilee+

Jo Wittams, Interim Executive Director, The Equality Trust