"As we set out on our Christian Lent journey of 40 days of prayer and fasting we are launching the Birmingham End Hunger Fast Campaign."
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"Independent researchers like Prof Elizabeth Dowler of Warwick University have emphasised the effect of food poverty on health and other areas of inequality.
There is also a particular focus this month on Child Poverty with the re-launch of the government’s strategy but a seeming confusion about how the well-argued principles will be funded. It is widely agreed that well-resourced jobs, improved living standards, better education and local business and community participation are the main areas for investment to raise children out of poverty. Can we encourage our own Local Authority to refresh the Birmingham Child Poverty Strategy urgently?
With the drastic cut in money available to Birmingham City Council and other councils there is a new openness to partners including the faith communities providing support and care for the most vulnerable. During Lent let us pray for the next round of Near Neighbours announced recently and discover more about Places of Welcome spreading across the region. Let us also affirm the initiative of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Faith and Society in proposing a Covenant for Engagement between faith communities and local authorities which we hope to sign soon.
This expectation on the Church and other volunteers and social entrepreneurs to take more responsibility for bridging inequalities and improving social cohesion cannot be sustained without a vibrant faith.
Jesus bridged the gap between God and the World on the cross. Let us renew our faith by focusing on the suffering love that won our safety for ever. Graham Tomlin’s ‘Looking through the Cross’ (Bloomsbury 2013) is an excellent guide.
Then ‘by the prayer and discipline of Lent’ may we be equipped in the power of the death and resurrection of Jesus to better serve the neighbour worse off than ourselves and re-order our own households as examples of holy, sustainable living."