Earlier this year the Scottish Episcopal Church launched a fund to help to target child poverty in Scotland.
Grants of up to £5,000 have been made available, on successful application, for a pilot period of one year for congregational programmes specifically focused on the alleviation of the effects of child poverty.
The initiative followed discussion on child poverty at General Synod 2018. The church recognises that child poverty is a wide-ranging and complex issue and encourages its congregations to work with other partners whether ecumenically, with other faiths or with secular groups/agencies.
The Right Rev Ian Paton, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane and member of the Mission Board, said: “This is an important way for the Scottish Episcopal Church to put faith into action. Churches are in a good position to know the needs of their communities.
“Either working with the range of talent that members of a congregation have or through partnership working with others, we can invite people to live Jesus’ promise, ‘I have come that they may have life, and have it in all its fullness’ [John 10:10].”
The Fund is managed through the Church in Society Committee of the SEC, on behalf of the Mission Board, and the Committee is delighted to report that two congregations have made successful applications so far this year. St John the Evangelist, Alloa, is supporting their local primary school with the provision of school uniforms for the new academic year in September. School uniforms and decent new clothing is important to maintain a common identity among all the pupils, so that those children whose families are basically living in poverty are not discriminated against in any way when they come to school.
The Baby Bank project at St Paul’s and St George’s, Edinburgh, provides new and expectant parents in financial difficulty with a ‘Starter Pack’ of essentials, which supplement the Scottish Government Baby Box scheme. The church believes that through building relationships they can enable and assist families living in poverty to access the full range of support that is available to them through Government and charitable schemes, as well as providing supplemental essentials.
Both projects support families in a practical way, and the Church in Society committee believes that they show how the love and compassion of God can be realised through the work of the church in our communities.
The Acting Convener of the Church in Society Committee, Rev Elaine Garman, said of the Fund: “We are encouraging a diversity of initiatives to seek funding. We wish to aid those who are in need, enabling them to access resources and opportunities, and empowering them to use their skills and gifts. With the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are aware that many families may be struggling to make ends meet, and we particularly encourage congregations to look at how they can assist their communities at this time, and invite them to seek funding from the Child Poverty Fund.”
The criteria for selection are:
- Identification of a real need in the community
- Probable impact of the programme directly improving the circumstances of children and families, and/or indirectly through education and campaigning
- Probability of the proposers being able to deliver the work envisaged
- Development of community links, fostering engagement with the broader community
- Must be led by an SEC congregation or diocese
- Partnerships with other churches and/or community groups are encouraged
Application forms for the Child Poverty Fund are available from the Scottish Episcopal Church website. Guidelines for organisations interested in applying to the fund can be found here on the SEC website.
For further information contact Miriam Weibye, Church Relations Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org