Poverty and Homelessness Action Week 2012 aims to challenge barriers of misunderstanding, stigma and injustice resulting from inequality.
The Week comes as official statistics reveal that the gap between the richest and poorest in Britain is growing. It is an annual opportunity for churches of all denominations to demonstrate solidarity with people who live in poverty or experience homelessness and other forms of social exclusion.
In 2012, Poverty and Homelessness Action Week will run from 28 January to 5 February. During that period many local activities will take place across the UK, including church services, awareness-raising events and activity in schools.
The Week's 'Breaking Barriers' resource pack is now available online at www.actionweek.org.uk, and calls upon people throughout the churches to show solidarity with people who are pushed to the edge of society.
Churches, schools and community groups will use the materials to explore the problems of poverty, share ideas about how to tackle them, raise funds for local and national projects, and reflect in worship.
A prayer calendar will feature different barriers on each day of Poverty & Homelessness Action Week, to encourage participants to reflect and to act for change.
From the churches' point of view, the Week includes both Homelessness Sunday and Poverty Action Sunday. Resource materials include worship guides, materials for work with children and young people, and other materials, along with a map of events across the UK.
Scottish Churches Housing Action Alastair Cameron commented: “Our society is full of barriers, and poverty creates many of them – barriers to getting on the housing ladder, or into a job, or even feeling safe in a particular part of town. False expectations set up by rampant materialism, status and acquisitiveness build barriers, too. The resource materials provide alternatives, giving ideas for how to build bridges within our communities.”
Church Action on Poverty National Coordinator, Niall Cooper added: “Poverty and Homelessness Action Week will provide a timely opportunity for churches to reflect on one of the pressing topical issues of the day, namely: How can we break down the barriers between rich and poor; how can we start to break the barriers between those with wealth, money and power in society and those without?”