Charity of the Month – Church Urban Fund
Tackling poverty together in England
Jesus said: “I tell you the truth: whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25: 40
It is often difficult to think of communities living in poverty in the UK, but the statistics are staggering: 13.5 million people are currently living in poverty – that’s more than 1 in 5.
Many people in the poorest parts of England are trapped in a complex web of poverty that is hard to escape. This can affect all aspects of life, from health and well being to quality of education and the chances of getting a job. Children from deprived backgrounds are nearly a year behind their peers in language skills by the age of five and they are over three times as likely to suffer from mental health problems as those in well-off families. People living in the poorest areas of England are likely to die 26 years earlier than those living in the richest areas.
But even in the poorest communities there are committed, talented and enthusiastic local people working to tackle poverty. The Church Urban Fund (CUF) was established as a registered charity in 1987 following the publication of the landmark report “Faith in the City”. Over the past twenty-four years the Church Urban Fund has worked with more than 6,500 inspiring individuals and churches that are responding to the needs of those struggling with the effects of poverty. The projects that they run address issues such as homelessness, youth unemployment, and drug and alcohol dependency, working to meet people’s material, spiritual and emotional needs.
Church Urban Fund’s vision is to see people and communities across England flourish and enjoy life in all its fullness. Everyone has a part to play in bringing this vision into being. CUF is committed to working relationally, inclusively and effectively. Its work involves resourcing, supporting, equipping and partnering with local churches, community groups, other faith groups, charities and statutory bodies to bring about positive change in communities. Its aim is to bring about long-term, sustainable change by mobilising people to address the issues they see in their own communities, helping them identify and build upon the experience, skills, relationships and resources already located there. At the same time, its capacity building and policy influencing work responds to the fact that resources are not always distributed evenly from place to place.
As the Church of England’s social action charity, CUF has unique access to local communities across England through the parish network. This ensures that all it does is rooted in and informed by real life experience. It also enables the sharing of learning, meaning that innovative and effective approaches can be readily transplanted from one context to another. CUF brings about change in four main ways: 1 The Together Network: A network of 18 organisations across England that work to resource local churches and other groups as they seek to make a positive difference within their communities; 2 Near Neighbours: Building social cohesion by bringing together people of different faiths and none, whilst helping people develop leadership skills and work together to improve their communities; 3 Just Finance Foundation: A programme that aims to shape a fairer finance system, including through financial capability training, work with credit unions and awareness raising; 4 Shaping the Public Sphere: Publications, resources and events that influence thinking about, and responses to, issues affecting the flourishing of individuals and communities.
The Church Urban Fund is the Church of England’s response to poverty in this country, working in partnership with Christians who feel called to put their faith into action. The Fund’s vision is for every church, in very community, to tackle poverty together by giving time, money, action and prayer, and its aim to increase the passion within the Church for the poor and marginalised and make the Church’s response more effective.
During September please pray for the work of the Church Urban Fund in enabling projects to transform lives in England’s poorest communities and make a generous donation to support that work. You can find out more about the Church Urban Fund on its website www.cuf.org.uk.