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Ending poverty is in all our interests

Only a few weeks ago it seemed that poverty was going to be an almost universal experience.  Thanks to government announcements this week, however, the average annual energy bill will now be some £4,000 less than it could have been.  I am sure many of us are breathing a sigh of relief.

One result of the government's intervention, welcome though it is, is that poverty once again becomes a minority experience.  We no longer have the incentive of self-interest to build a more equal society. 

It's all the more important, then, to listen out for the voices of those who are facing hardship, draw alongside them, and speak up for their interests. 

Soon after his election as Pope, Francis said he wanted a 'poor Church for the poor'.  Let's help those words find fulfilment in Nottingham Diocese.  In this issue we outline what seems to the emerging as the best way to respond, with a parish five-point plan.  Join us at two upcoming events - one online next week, and another in Leicester on 5 November - to explore what part you can play.

Early next month we also launch Pioneer Parishes, which invites your parish to take early steps on the journey to net-zero.  Let's allow the ongoing tragedy in Pakistan, and the little-known trauma which Hurricane Fiona this week dealt to the people of Costa Rica, to spur us all to repair the fabric of this wounded planet, just as the Gospel calls us to repair the fabric of our own communities.

-- Paul
for Caritas Diocese of Nottingham

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Cost of Living crisis
  • A parish five-point plan?
  • 28 September: Cost of living: how might your parish respond?
  • 5 November: Caritas Assembly: 'Bring your loaves and fishes'
Season of Creation
  • Pioneer Parishes: evangelise, decarbonise, rewild
  • St Francis' Day workshop to launch Pioneer Parishes
  • Derby churches' Great Big Green Week
And events in Leicester and Lincoln

Online workshop
The cost of living crisis: how might your parish respond?
Wednesday 28 September, 7.00 – 8.30 p.m.

We’ll share ideas of how we can respond to poverty, hunger and destitution in our parish congregations and neighbourhoods.  And we’ll begin to develop options for action. 

Caritas can provide bespoke support to a number of ‘beacon’ parishes.  If you would like yours to be one of them, take this opportunity to find out more and invite your clergy and fellow parishioners to come along.

Sign up here to respond to the cost-of-living crisis
Annual Caritas Assembly
"Bring your loaves and fishes"
Saturday 5 November, 10.30 a.m. – 3.30 p.m.
at St Joseph’s, Leicester

We're also planning a day of listening, discerning and acting together on the cost-of-living crisis on Saturday 5 November, at St Joseph’s, Leicester.  The event will feature national and local speakers, including Sean Ryan of Together for the Common Good, and Dr Amy Daughton, practical theologian at the Unversity of Birmingham.  The afternoon offers a rich mix of workshops such as:
  • Mapping the neighbourhood
  • We opened a community café
  • Warm churches and homes
  • Helping people in hardship
Click below to sign up to either event or both.
Sign up here to respond to the cost-of-living crisis
Becoming a poor church for the poor

For many people the 2022 cost-of-living crisis was already nothing new.  And we can be sure that this winter their numbers will only increase.  Here we outline a five-point plan to help you build a 'poor parish for the poor'. 

The resources which you can access below are included in a Caritas Toolkit which is already available in draft on request, and will be launched on the diocesan website soon.  You'll be able to explore them in more detail at next week's online workshop.
Listen out!

Listening is always the best place to start.  Perhaps you could hold a 'parish hall meeting' to build leadership and action from the ground up?  In Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire you could also join with the Citizens movement - Leicester and Leicestershire Citizens are organising a Listening Launch on 12 October - details below.  Also talk to staff at your local Catholic schools, and other local churches, to share what you're both hearing and identify ways to work together.

If you're planning a drop-in or community café, it's always valuable for the key volunteers to get together for 15 minutes after a session finishes to review what's been witnessed.  This simple reflection, perhaps with prayer, will help your group build a picture of needs, and review how well you are meeting them.
Suggested outline of a 'parish hall meeting'
Open a ‘Warm Room’
Many local authorities are now looking for community venues where people who are struggling with heating bills can find warmth, a hot drink and perhaps a meal.  Funding may be available to cover your extra heating.  Could your parish hall be one, perhaps on a rota with other local churches?  
Create a community hub
While you’re at it, why not open as a hub signposting people to advice and guidance, learning English, benefit queries, counselling or money advice?  Other local churches, libraries and even pubs may be thinking of doing the same - you could join them in a weekly rota of venues.  Your local social prescribers, based at your city or county council, will be keen to work with you.
Join the crisis supply chain
Many parishes collect for their local foodbank.  Could yours also be a distribution hub?  If you have storage space, could you help a local charity or school with supplies of ‘pre-loved’ clothing, school uniforms, and other essentials such as sanitary products?
Share your skills and gifts
Don’t let your parishioners hide their light under a bushel!  Our parishes are rich in talents which can help struggling households.  Be it repairs, hairdressing or IT skills; crafts that cost little but make life worth living; or help to fill in forms to claim welfare benefits – click the button below to ask for our parish skillshare templates.
Number icons by Icons8
And talk to us at Caritas

We’ll support you all the way, from the very first 'itch' to take action.  Our Outreach Toolkit contains succinct and straightforward advice and templates to help you navigate the practicalities, such as:
•    Safeguarding
•    Health and safety
•    Data protection
•    Food safety
•    Recruiting volunteers
•    Funding and fundraising.

And we're planning a regular online get-together where anyone involved in running a parish outreach can find support and advice.  Join our workshop next Wednesday to find out more.
Email us for the Caritas Outreach Toolkit
Do justice as well as mercy

Before leaving this topic it's worth reading this thought-provoking article by Dr Sally Mann, courtesy of Red Letter Christians, warning us not to help 'normalise' the cost-of-living crisis by what we do.  She says:
"There are good reasons not to open a Warm Centre in your church or community centre and perhaps ways to do it well if you decide to go ahead."

Her point is not to discourage us from opening our churches to the cold and hungry, but to use our experience to help change the system so that they are not cold and hungry in the first place.  We'll be working with Caritas Social Action Network and others to ensure the voices of those you serve are heard in government.
Read 'Churches, Warm Centres, and Normalising the Cost-of-Living Crisis'

'Pioneer Parishes' is an ambitious new environmental initiative for the Diocese of Nottingham, equipping parishes to map a journey to sustainability.

We're launching on St Francis' Day, 4 October, and we invite you to join us online that evening to pray, learn and find out more.

Pioneer Parishes
Rooted in Creation, renewed in the Spirit

St Francis of Assisi’s feastday
Monday 4th October 2022

7.00 – 8.30 p.m. on Zoom

As the environmental crisis deepens, the witness of St Francis of Assisi becomes ever more vital.

At the conclusion of the 2022 Season of Creation, join Caritas to celebrate his example, see Creation afresh with his eyes, and gain inspiration for action. 

You can learn about Pioneer Parishes, a new scheme to support your parish in reaching net-zero and rewilding our land, and hear from one of the parishes who are already leading the way.

Click below to book your place.

Join us on St Francis' Day for Pioneer Parishes
Let's tell you more about the Pioneer Parishes scheme.

Whether it’s climate change or the depletion of wildlife, news is coming in thick and fast of the dangers to life on Earth.

In 2015 Pope Francis issued his groundbreaking encyclical Laudato Si’, ‘On Care for our Common Home’. It calls us to take practical action for creation, the poor and future generations.

Laudato Si’ not only helps us safeguard Creation, it can also stimulate renewal in the parish. That’s why we are launching Pioneer Parishes, a scheme to support Catholic communities on every aspect of their journey to 2030.

As a Pioneer Parish you will not only be helping to reduce the Church’s environmental footprint. You’ll be making a statement of faith in the future of the Church, and a commitment to its younger members!

What you do as a Pioneer Parish will count towards a LiveSimply Award from CAFOD, who have generously funded the creation of a website for the scheme with national charity Journey to 2030.

A Pioneer Parish is one which is seeking ways to:


Enable its people to grow as disciples who care for God’s creation


Reduce carbon emissions, through a journey to ‘net zero’ - if possible by 2030


Manage its premises to make space for nature

… and is taking action on other priorities of its choice, whether environmental (for instance on waste or advocacy) or in wider parish renewal or outreach.

You won't be taking the journey alone

As a Pioneer Parish you’ll get support from Caritas and from a growing number of other Pioneer Parishes around the diocese.

Find out more about the Pioneer Parishes scheme
Here's an invitation from ecumenical friends in Derby to packed week of Christian eco-events to mark the Season of Creation 
Find out more about Derby churches' Great Big Green Week
Parishes in Leicester and Leicestershire are invited to two forthcoming events from the local chapter of Citizens UK, the community organising network.  

Leicester & Leicestershire Citizens is an alliance of 20 local civil society groups working together to develop their leaders, strengthen their institutions and make long-lasting change. They want to listen to people in our parishes to identify which issues they will make positive change on over the next year. 

Citizens have asked us to encourage you to attend, and we are very pleased to do so.  The listening campaign is exactly the kind of thing we are encouraging parishes to undertake.

In fact two events are coming up.

Listening launch: 
Wednesday 12th October 2022
5:30 p.m. - 7.30 p.m.
City of Leicester College

How to maker change: an introduction to community organising:
Saturday 15 October
9.30 a.m. - 4.30 p.m.
St Martin's House Conference Centre

This second event will train you in the craft of Community Organising, equipping you with the practical tools to change the world from what it is, to what you believe it should be.  If you get along to either of them, let us know what you learned, and how parishes can get involved.

More about Leicester's Listening Launch
More about Leicester Community Organising training
While in Leicestershire, a reminder of the first meeting called Share, Inspire, Support, organised by Caritas Leicester on 5 October.  This is a network of people from parishes in the city and wider county who stay in touch and meet bimonthly to do just that - share, inspire and support each other in putting their faith into action.  The meeting on 5 October gets the ball rolling with a focus on the care of Creation,
Let Catherine at Caritas Leicester know you're planning to go
Caritas has partnered with Lincoln Cathedral in a series of lectures over 2022 and 2023 on the theme of social theology - how God calls us to engage with the world, in terms of the economy, work, nature, freedom, social peace, politics and civic life.

Two forthcoming lectures take place at Lincoln Cathedral from 6.30 - 8.00 p.m.  Also below you can find details of The Word and The Common Good, a series of discussions on the Bible and Catholic Social teaching.

27 September 2022: Edward Hadas, Fellow at Blackfriars Hall, Oxford and author of Counsels of Imperfection: Thinking Through Catholic Social Teaching
JUST BEING? On the dignity and divine calling of the human person. Can people be who they truly are in the modern world?

18 October: Rev Dr Malcolm Brown, Director of Mission and Public Affairs for the Church of England, and Visiting Professor in Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Winchester
JUST CHURCH? How does Catholic Social Teaching fit into the mission of the Church of England? What is the Anglican legacy for the common good and how might it become a church for England?
Book for a Lincoln Cathedral lecture
The Word and the Common Good
In the autumn, there is opportunity for Lincoln folk to engage with Catholic Social Teaching in small ecumenical groups for The Word and the Common Good’.  About 40 people took part in the course online with Caritas during lockdown.  If you didn't make it then, now's your chance, with friends from other Lincoln churches.

One group will be led by Lincoln Cathedral's Canon Chancellor, Rev Canon Dr Paul Overend, and another by the Dean of Chapel and Chaplain at Bishop Grosseteste University, Rev Dr Peter Green along with chaplaincy colleagues.

Group 1: Click here to email your booking
Saturdays fortnightly, 10.30-11.20: 1 October, 15 October, 29 October, 12 November, 26 November, 10 December. Please contact beforehand to register so that a suitable room can be located.

Group 2: Click here to email your booking
In The Chaplaincy Group Space, Student Union Building, Bishop Grosseteste University. These are in successive weeks on the following dates from 14.00-14.50: Monday 10 October, Tuesday 18 October, Wednesday 26 October, Thursday 3 November, Friday 11 November, Monday 14 November
If interested but unable to join either of these groups, please email the Chancellor.
In his message for the World day of Prayer for Creation, Pope Francis urges us to pray for the forthcoming summits on climate (COP26 in Egypt) and biodiversity (COP15 in Canada).
During this Season of Creation,
let us pray that COP27 and COP15 can serve to unite the human family
in effectively confronting the double crisis
of climate change and the reduction of biodiversity.

Mindful of the exhortation of Saint Paul
to rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep,
let us weep with the anguished plea of creation.

Let us hear that plea and respond to it with deeds,
so that we and future generations can continue to rejoice
in creation's sweet song of life and hope.
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Diocese of Nottingham · Willson House · 25 Derby Road · Nottingham, Nottingham NG1 5AW · United Kingdom

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