About Action Week
Poverty & Homelessness Action Week has been running each year since 2008. It brings together two special Sundays which have been marked in UK churches for many years: Homelessness Sunday and Poverty Action Sunday.
The Week aims to:
- raise awareness of the issues of poverty and homelessness in the UK
- raise funds for projects and campaigns which work to tackle poverty and homelessness
- involve people in campaign actions that tackle the causes of poverty and homelessness
Individuals, churches and groups are all encouraged to get involved in the week:
- Churches can run worship services to mark one of the Sundays, praying for vulnerable people as well as raising awareness and funds.
- Many churches also run special activities for children or young people.
- Groups and organisations (including schools) can run events to raise funds or awareness.
- Individuals can use our resources to reflect on the theme, and donate to support the cause.
Free resources are available from this website to support people doing all of these things. We also maintain a database of all events being organised each year, helping to promote and organise events.
Action Week is jointly organised by Church Action on Poverty, Housing Justice and Scottish Churches Housing Action. It is sponsored and supported by many other organisations.
Action Week 2013: Can you cast the first stone?
Who is to blame for rising levels of poverty and homelessness in the UK today?
Some blame the last government for the high levels of public debt. Some blame the present government for austerity budgets and welfare benefit cuts. Some blame the bankers, or the Euro, or the global crisis of capitalism.
What worries us is that many are blaming the victims. Press coverage focuses on ‘benefit cheats’ and ‘scroungers’. Government spokespeople - including the Prime Minister - set up a false contrast between those who ‘work hard and do the right thing’, and those locked into a ‘benefits culture’. Immigrants, not the economic slump, are blamed for the lack of jobs. From tenants shipped out of their local authority and to the periphery of cities because their housing benefit does not cover their rent any more, to disabled people threatened with having their benefit cut if they do not engage in work; from vulnerable women and children denied support as a result of cuts in local services, to the unemployed and people on benefits – vulnerable people are routinely cast in a negative light.
We’re not saying that people in poverty never do bad things. Homeless people can often be their own harshest critics when they look back on the wrong choices in their lives. But we are saying that a blame culture is not the way to make things better. We can pretend that poverty is a matter of failure of individuals and families, but that won’t help.
We need to recognise instead that we are truly all in it together. A person’s predicament can be down to mental distress, economic pressure (e.g. low-paid casual work) or relationship breakdown, as well as fecklessness or substance abuse. Cuts in benefits, as well as local services to vulnerable groups, cause many to fall on ever harder times.
Hundreds make an honest benefit claim for every dodgy one - and yet what news editor puts that on page 1?
Jesus was being tested by the Pharisees when they brought him the woman ‘taken in adultery’. Jesus never said she was blameless. He simply showed that condemnation will not change her ways. We won’t tackle poverty and homelessness by blaming those who are poor and homeless. Please join us in Poverty & Homelessness Action Week 2013, and call for an end to this blame game.