CSAN Blog

Caritas Leadership Week – Part 2

  

In September 2018, around 50 leaders of Catholic charities in England and Wales gathered in Rome for a few days, dedicated to leadership development. Two of the Directors have written a personal reflection on the experience. This is the second, from Steven Webb, Director of Development for the  Diocese of Brentwood.

Last week I was privileged to be in Rome with over 50 people from Caritas organisations all over England & Wales. We were engaged in discussions about topics such as how to promote this important work, how to train leaders for the future and how to ensure we meet the needs of those we serve. We met together in the company of our colleagues from Caritas Europa and we shared experience and learning. We visited the Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis and the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, where we discussed the importance of working together and facing issues that cross national boundaries. We also met with the UK Ambassador to the Holy See and had an opportunity to share matters of concern under Chatham House Rules.

All of this brought home to me just how important is the work that we have embarked upon together in our diocese. I simply wanted to share that with you and to express once again my thanks for all that you are doing. Not everyone likes the word “Caritas” and I understand that it is not an everyday word. However, the fact that it is not an everyday word should give it special meaning for us. We should take time to ponder and pray upon the meaning.

The fact that it is a word shared by our brothers and sisters across Europe and the whole International Catholic Community should give us a sense of solidarity with them and all those they serve. To see the amazing work of Caritas Europa and Caritas Internationalis was wonderful, to feel so at home with them as Caritas Social Action Network was fantastic and to realise that Caritas Diocese of Brentwood is taking its first steps on the same journey is genuinely exciting.

At the same time as we were in Rome, the Bishops of England and Wales were having their visit ad limina Apostolorum. During this visit to the various dicasteries and Vatican departments our Bishops discuss issues relevant to our dioceses and also meet with the Holy Father. They also pray together in the Basilicas and at the tombs of St Peter and St Paul. They were constantly in our prayers as we met just across the eternal city. It was a wonderful experience to celebrate Holy Mass and to pray together with our bishops at the tomb of St Paul.

At the end of their visit, the Bishops of England and Wales made a statement that is published in full on their website. Of particular relevance is the following extract from it:

“Our reports of the Eucharistic Congress ‘Adoremus’ have been well received, as has the strength of our compassionate outreach to those in need. Indeed, the leaders of Catholic charitable works from England and Wales were present in Rome at this same time, at the instigation of Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN) and we were able to spend time and pray together. In encouraging this work of outreach, Pope Francis urged us always to walk with those engaged in its projects so as to draw them nearer to the Lord who is the source of compassion and mercy.”

The fact that our Bishops and the Holy Father place so much importance on the exercise of the ministry of charity should be most heartening to all of us involved in this work. The fact that Pope Francis links it so firmly with drawing people nearer to the Lord makes clear the role of evangelisation played by exercising the ministry of charity.

As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote in Deus Caritas Est and repeated in “On the Service of Charity”, the exercise of this ministry is one of three equally important and inseparable responsibilities that express the deepest nature of our Church. For this reason Caritas is included as one of our 12 Strands of Renewal as we work together to evangelise in the Diocese of Brentwood.

May we always walk with those engaged in our projects so as to draw them nearer to the Lord who is the source of compassion and mercy.

Caritas Leadership Week – Part 1

  

In September 2018, around 50 leaders of Catholic charities in England and Wales gathered in Rome for a few days, dedicated to leadership development. Two of the Directors have written a personal reflection on the experience. This is the first, from Eddie Gilmore, Chief Executive of the Irish Chaplaincy, based in London.

I get the chance through my work to meet a lot of great people, in some interesting places (from prisons to palaces), and the Caritas Leadership Week near Rome did not disappoint. We were a group of fifty, representing a range of Catholic charities and dioceses in England and Wales, staying at Villa Palazzola, a 13th century Cistercian monastery perched above a volcanic lake, Lago di Albano, and according to the website ‘Rome’s best kept secret’.

From the garden terrace at the Villa (where pre-dinner drinks were served in the evening!) the view is vast and truly breathtaking. On the opposite side of the lake can be seen the twin towers of Castel Gandolfo, the summer papal residence; beyond that in the distance the urban sprawl of Rome; and further still on a clear day the bright blue of the Mediterranean. I loved to stand on that terrace at various times of the day and to behold the subtly changing vista and colours. The sunsets over the lake were especially stunning.

According to the program the purpose of the four days was: ‘the formation of leaders within the Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN) through personal development, developing relationships as a community of leaders, and experiencing ourselves as part of the global Caritas family and universal Church’. I would say in retrospect that the meeting achieved all of those aims. A key element for me of such events will always be meeting people and building relationships, and I was really touched and inspired by those I met. I could see how everybody in the group was enjoying meeting one another on a very human level, and getting a sense of being part of something greater than ourselves and our own organisation. The nice location helps with that; also being well cared for, with good food and wine (occasionally I resisted, but mostly I didn’t!). And there’s also a swimming pool, which I had been particularly looking forward to using. I managed four swims during the meeting, also three runs through the woods that circle the lake (there are some very sporty types in the CSAN family!)

Another central element of the week was prayer and liturgy. Amongst the group were four of the loveliest and most down to earth priests (also a deacon) and they led us in a daily celebration of Mass, and in the Morning (7.15 am!) and Evening Prayer of the Church. One morning the Mass was in the crypt of St Peter’s, in front of the tomb of St Peter; and the following day it was with the Bishops of England and Wales in the magnificent basilica of St Paul’s Outside the Walls, and which included a final prayer at the tomb of St Paul.

And there was music! I found a guitar in the house and one evening after the bar had opened I got together with Sean who had a collection of tin whistles and recorders, having worked as a professional musician before joining Caritas. What a session that was! We spent about two hours singing mainly Irish songs, some of which I hadn’t sung in over twenty years but somehow could still remember the words to. Being a mainly Catholic group, a lot of people had Irish roots and there was no shortage of either requests for yet another Irish song or people joining in. Then on the final night Sean compered a musical evening during which several people did turns. One of my favourite pieces was a music hall song called ‘Light fingered Freddy’ which is from a Salvation Army musical (I never knew such a thing existed). Yes, one of the CSAN directors is a Salvationist, and what a great guy he is. He runs as well!

We were not just eating, drinking, singing, swimming and praying: there was excellent input, besides two trips into Rome to meet different groups (and to have lunch with the British Ambassador to the Holy See). The main speaker was Kerry Robinson, who founded ‘Leadership Roundtable’ based in Washington DC. She was particularly eloquent on the urgent need for the Catholic Church to harness the gifts of women in leadership at all levels. I was excited when Kerry mentioned Henri Nouwen, the Dutch priest who had been a member of L’Arche in Toronto and of how he had encouraged us to be people of joy and gratitude. This was in the context of fundraising which was one of the themes of the week and I later shared with the group something Henri has once said in a talk about fundraising: “When we ask people for money we shouldn’t be embarrassed or apologetic; we should say ‘it is my pleasure to invite you to share in our mission’”!

Another inspiring speaker was Sally Read, an English poet living near Rome, who told one evening the very moving story of her journey from atheism to faith. And I was touched as well by our meeting with members of Sant’Egidio, a community in Rome that reaches out to those in need, including many homeless.

To all the wonderful people I met at Villa Palazzola: keep up the great work and hope to see you again.

‘A Kingdom of justice, love and peace’ – The Eucharist and social justice

  

By Dr Philip McCarthy, Chief Executive, Caritas Social Action Network

When I was asked to speak on ‘how the Eucharist changes the way we can see the world and the demands it makes on how we should live’, my mind went back to an early experience. When I was 16 a Marist priest who taught at my school asked for volunteers for an overnight soup run in central London. What I saw that cold night had a profound effect on me. It was the mid-1970s when ‘cardboard cities’ lined the Thames embankments: homeless people sleeping in boxes. People huddled under the extractor fans from the Strand Palace Hotel for warmth, and many as hungry as they were cold. The soup run was provided by a couple of priests, several religious sisters and dedicated lay people. They all had day jobs,
and as the night wore on I witnessed their commitment to alleviating hunger and loneliness. I realised that this was an integral part of their Christian faith.

In my adolescent mind I had assumed that being a Catholic meant going to Church and trying not to commit sins, so this was a breakthrough for me! Pope Benedict XVI tells us in Deus Caritas Est,

‘The Church’s deepest nature is expressed in her three-fold responsibility: of proclaiming the word of God, celebrating the sacraments, and exercising the ministry of charity (caritas). These duties presuppose each other and are inseparable. For the Church, charity is not a kind of welfare activity which could equally well be left to others, but is a part of her nature.’

If proclaiming the word, celebrating the sacraments and caritas are inseparable, it follows that the Eucharist, the ‘source and summit’ of our Christian lives, must make demands on the way we relate to others, particularly those in poverty and
exclusion from society. Like manna in the desert, the Eucharist sustains us in difficult times and helps us to deal with our limitations. St Pope John Paul II wrote: ‘Were we to disregard the Eucharist, how could we overcome our own deficiency?”

We go to church to receive the gift of the Eucharist, but from the moment we enter the building we are reminded of the demands of social justice. We know that Jesus caused scandal to the religious authorities of his own time by sharing meals with outcasts – but how well do we welcome outsiders and those who do not easily ‘fit in’ to the Eucharistic
feast? I expect that most of us can think of times when we have failed in this and so we start Mass by admitting our own failures and brokenness.

Throughout the Mass there may be words and actions that remind us that the Eucharist calls us to serve each other, as Jesus did at the Last Supper by washing the feet of his disciples. We may also reflect that such love and service can be costly and as we call to mind Jesus’ sacrifice for us, we may reflect on the sacrifices that many have made in His Name for social justice. The Blessed Oscar Romero, one of the patrons of Caritas, gunned down while saying Mass, is a vivid example, but we may also be called to make day to day sacrifices of our time and energy for others.

At the end of the Mass, having met Jesus in the Eucharist, we are sent forth, not just to gossip on the church steps, but to change the world and build the Kingdom of God. We have received the body of Christ and now we leave to be the body of Christ for our world; to bring healing and wholeness to a divided and unjust world. As St Teresa of Avilla wrote:

‘Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he
looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

I have described some of the demands that the Eucharist makes on the way we live our lives, but how does it change the way we see the world? It seems to me that this is where Eucharistic adoration can help us. Through Eucharistic adoration
we may be led into contemplation of wholeness, the unity of the human family and the wonder of the universe. In Laudato Si’ Pope Francis wrote:

‘In the Eucharist, fullness is already achieved; it is the living centre of the universe, the overflowing core of love and of inexhaustible life. Joined to the incarnate Son, present in the Eucharist, the whole cosmos gives thanks to God. Indeed, the Eucharist is itself an act of cosmic love. We are called to respond to this outpouring love for us, through acts of compassion for others and care
for our planet.’

A brief article can only touch on a few aspects of this subject. I hope the Adoremus Congress workshop will enable us to explore this subject in greater depth and lead to practical actions in service of others. If so, what a wonderful legacy
Adoremus might leave in England and Wales for the years to come.

This article was prepared for a workshop at the National Eucharistic Congress held in Liverpool on 8-9 September 2018, and was first published in ‘The Universe’.

Working for a better future

  

What demands does Catholic Social Teaching make on government, employers and employees?

By Rob Flello

Oliver Twist was published in 1837 – the period which marked the end of the first Industrial Revolution. In the following fifty years, Britain underwent enormous social change and innovation. The country saw the growth of huge disparities between the riches of a small elite and the mass destitution of the working classes. By 1889, the London Dockers were on strike for their tanner: Cardinal Manning went on to successfully mediate in the dispute.

Just two years later, in 1891, Rerum Novarum was published. Pope Leo XIII wrote, “working [people] have been surrendered, isolated and helpless, to the hardheartedness of employers and the greed of unchecked competition…a small number of [the] very rich have been able to lay upon the teaming masses of the laboring poor a yoke little better than that of slavery itself” (1).

In this way, Catholic Social Teaching makes some quite specific demands on government, employers and employees. At its simplest it requires them to act in the best interests of each other to avoid excessive greed and to look out for the well being of the people. It seeks dignity for all and the self-respect of those concerned.

The right to work

Former Vice-President of the USA, Joe Biden, is not alone when he notes his father’s advice that, “a job is about more than a paycheck. It’s about your dignity. It’s about respect. It’s about your place in your community”. According to the Mental Health Foundation ,“being in work is important for everyone’s health and well-being; it gives us a purpose…, promotes independence, allows us to develop social contacts, and is a factor in preventing both physical and mental health problems” (2).  Clearly, the right to work has many important aspects. Work can improve self-esteem and confidence, reducing depression and psychological distress.

Most of the obligations on employers flow from the rights of their workers. Employers should look on their workers as in a relationship with them of mutual need and support, not simply as commodities in themselves, as a slave master would.

The role of the State

Throughout Catholic Social Teaching, the Church is very clear on the need for a strong state with the ability to intervene to maintain justice. It is also clear that the State should not overstep the mark and interfere wrongly in family, property and other aspects of life.

In the UK, legislation has been introduced regulating working hours, the age of child employment and the right to paid time off, as well as maternity and paternity leave. In addition to National Minimum Wage, we have pay and gender equality laws and wide-ranging employment and health and safety legislation. There is also some regulation over the markets and businesses. But what we don’t have is any regulation covering zero hours contracts, which are widely regarded as being grossly unfair to the employee in favour of the employer. Moreover, there is tension around free trade deals, free movement of labour and market deregulation. If UK employers are free to bring in workers who are able to under-cut the terms and conditions of the existing workforce, then I consider that is also in direct contravention of Rerum Novarum and its successor encyclicals, and harms both the existing workers and those coming to take the jobs.

 

Note 1 – Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum, 3 (1891)

Note 2 – Mental Health Foundation, ‘Employment is vital for maintaining good mental health’ (2012)

Rob Flello is a political consultant, former Labour Member of Parliament for Stoke South and former shadow Justice Minister. This blog post is a shorter version of a speech given at ‘Working for a Better Future’, at the Mechanics’ Institute in Manchester, on 1 May 2018.

The opinions and positions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Caritas Social Action Network.

 

 

 

 

Catholic women in Kidderminster reach out to new mothers

  

By Teresa Clements, Newcomer Coordinator, Father Hudson’s Care

The Union of Catholic Mothers (UCM) in the parish of St Ambrose in Kidderminster is a lively and welcoming group at the heart of the local community, which meets fortnightly in the parish hall.

During Lent, members of the group showed their generosity of spirit in contributing to the ‘Welcoming the Stranger’ initiative of Father Hudson’s Care (CSAN member), which provides focused support for refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable migrants.

In practical solidarity with expectant mothers newly arrived in the country, UCM members knitted beautifully-made warm baby clothes. They also contributed many essential items for mothers and babies. Brushstrokes is distributing these to refugee women living in Sandwell and Birmingham.

Tea dance in Stoke brings generations together

  

By Helen McCarroll, Father Hudson’s Care

On 19 March 2018, primary schoolchildren from St Peter’s Catholic Academy, Cobridge, joined older people for an afternoon of intergenerational singing and dancing.

The students visited the Hanley Young at Heart Club, run by Father Hudson’s Care (CSAN member charity), for an event inspired by Signal 1 Radio’s Don’t Dance Alone campaign. The children and older people enjoyed their time talking, singing and dancing together to live music.

This event was the brainchild of Jackie Kelsall, Family Support Worker at St Peter’s Catholic Academy, and Matt Ford, Project Co-ordinator at Young at Heart.

They were joined by Community Champions from Tesco, Hanley, who put on refreshments for the children. Tesco is a regular supporter of the Young at Heart project and were pleased to assist with this collaborative event.

Matt Ford said, “All the older people enjoyed it very much and have asked if the children can come back again. They said the children were lovely and very well mannered. I think the most enjoyable thing for me was seeing everyone in the room, old and young, mixing together and dancing. They all had smiles on their faces, which is what it’s all about.”

Young at Heart offers a range of services to combat social isolation faced by older people in Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire. The Hanley group is one of four social groups held locally, with a fifth opening in April.

Sleeping out in Durham for youth homelessness

  

By Anna Couper, Community Fundraising Manager, Depaul UK

As the sun set on Durham Cathedral on a relatively balmy night for mid-October 2017, I prepared to join 140 others who were sleeping out to raise money for Depaul UK and our vital emergency overnight accommodation service Nightstop.

There are few things in life that make us feel truly vulnerable. Sleeping on a stone floor, in the cloisters of a cathedral, with only my sleeping bag for comfort was one of them. And to know that this was only a fraction of the emotional turmoil that a young person might face sleeping on the streets was sobering.

I had access to a toilet, running water, and people looking after my security and wellbeing. For many, it is a much lonelier and scarier experience, and one that does not end when the sun comes up. Instead, the dawn only brings another day of uncertainty and danger. As I tried to shake out my aching muscles and wash away the chill that had settled over me as I tried to sleep, I could not shake off the feeling that for someone else this morning, the future felt empty, hopeless, and broken. That those experiencing homelessness lose far more than their security. It takes away their identity, confidence, and strength to keep going.

Depaul UK wants to change that. Founded on the values exemplified by Saint Vincent de Paul, our charity supports young people facing homelessness in the UK. And like St Vincent 400 years ago, Depaul reaches out to bring light into even the most difficult and complicated situations.

I think of Ashleigh, one of the many young people with whom Depaul works. Following the death of her mother to cancer, Ashleigh, who was aged just six, moved in with her aunt and eventually her grandmother. Sadly, Ashleigh’s grandmother was dependent on alcohol, having never recovered from the tragic loss of her daughter. After a difficult time and many arguments, Ashleigh found herself moving out and sofa-surfing, unable to return home. She was only 16.

“Then I found Depaul Nightstop.” Ashleigh discovered our emergency hosting service. She recalls. “I started to realise how it felt to be a part of a family!”

Now living in her own flat, with continuing support from Depaul, Ashleigh is confident and excited about the future. She adds: “I can honestly say I would not be the lady I am today if it wasn’t for Depaul.” Depaul is committed to not only meeting the urgent needs of vulnerable young people, but helping them discover their potential, and their value.

Sadly, her story could have been very different. It is estimated that in London alone there are 12,000 “hidden homeless”, most of them young people.

In Rome, thousands gathered on 14 October 2017, to hear Pope Francis, as he received the Vincentian family, calling us to adore, welcome and go forward to serve – a call we are committed to follow. With Depaul, we can be the light in the darkness to thousands of young people going to sleep afraid and alone tonight. We can be the answer, the friendly face, the family.

I will sleep out again, not simply because of the challenge (it was amazing and exhausting) but because if I sleep out, and others join me, through donating, volunteering and praying, it means that another young person won’t have to.

Picture: Durham Cathedral, medieval door knocker for people seeking sanctuary

 

Work with refugees celebrated in the Diocese of Leeds

  

By Carol Hill, Director, Catholic Care (Diocese of Leeds)

Over 120 people from every corner the Leeds Diocese attended the Diocesan Refugee Response: One Year On event on 31 January 2018, at Hinsley Hall. As in November 2016, when the Leeds Diocesan Response was first launched, and in spite of the wintry weather, people’s enthusiasm to help the most marginalised in our society was as strong as ever.  The buzz in the room was electrifying.

The purpose of the evening was to update each other about the work taking place in response to the plight of refugees and asylum seekers and also to connect those wanting to be involved with a variety of volunteering opportunities.

We watched a short film highlighting the work of Catholic Care’s Gianna project, which is more and more being called upon to support asylum seeker and refugee families. The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Rev Marcus Stock, invited the meeting to join him in prayer and gave a brief reflection on his visit to PAFRAS (Positive Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers) that had taken place earlier in the day.

First to present was Sean Ryan MBE, National Coordinator for the Community Sponsorship Scheme, which seeks to settle Syrian refugee families in the UK. Sean reported that this is a growing area of action in the Church, with over 70 parishes in England and Wales already working their way through the application process with the Home Office.

John Battle introduced several organisations working in the area, that then made an appeal for additional volunteer support. These included the SVP’s St Vincent’s Centre in Leeds, City of Sanctuary in Wakefield, the Conversation Club, and St Monica’s Housing.  Many more organisations had a stall in the “Market Place” which was the focus for the second part of the evening.

Finally, to highlight the powerful Spaces of Sanctuary photographic exhibition, two former asylum seekers, who have been helped by, and now volunteer for, the Refugee Council, told a little of their harrowing stories. The first had been in the country for 16 years, often sleeping in churches where she found sanctuary, before finally being given leave to remain 3 years ago after 13 years.  The second was on the verge of suicide, she was so desperate, and it was only the kindness of a GP that enabled her to turn the corner and keep going.

So much good work is already taking place but there is so much more to do.  After this inspiring event, many more are positively charged to help those who are disadvantaged, vulnerable and marginalised, living in our very own communities.

Faithful communities come together to transform lives in North Yorkshire

  

By John Hinman, Trustee of Together Middlesbrough and Cleveland, Core Group Member of Caritas Diocese of Middlesbrough 

 

Over four years ago, the Church Urban Fund and the Anglican Archdiocese of York set up a pioneering community programme, Together Middlesbrough and Cleveland, to help those in poverty and in need across Middlesbrough and the borough of Redcar and Cleveland.

Its Board of Trustees is chaired by Bishop Paul Ferguson, Anglican Bishop of Whitby, who wanted to ensure that the programme attained an ecumenical character. I was consequently appointed by Bishop Terry Drainey to represent the Catholic Diocese of Middlesbrough on the programme’s Board of Trustees.

At Together Middlesbrough and Cleveland, which is a Core Group Member of Caritas Diocese of Middlesbrough, we work with churches, other faiths, charities, local groups and organisations to help transform lives and build flourishing communities. Churches play a keep role in alleviating suffering caused by hardship and poverty, so our work is focussed on communities where people face such challenges.

Through working together, Anglicans, Catholics and Methodists have achieved a great deal in four years. Our tangible contribution to the initiative has been the offer of the John Paul Centre as a community hub for four local charities who were finding it difficult to pay rent at other properties.

At this centre, we support the homeless, those in poverty and refugees. The long-standing ethos of the centre is hard to miss. The slogan splashed across walls and notice boards reads: “Where Strangers Become Friends.”

The work to support refugees and asylum seekers in the area is second to none and the John Paul Centre has two dedicated charities working in this field. For example, the Upper Room Project serves food and the Mary Thompson Fund provides financial support and groceries to meet the critical needs of those who are seeking sanctuary or are settled refugees in the Tees Valley. Without the support of the Diocese of Middlesbrough, both vital charities would be unable to deliver services to this vulnerable group of people.

Several Catholic schools offer support to the John Paul Centre, and we receive support from students at Ampleforth Sixth Form and students from the Middlesbrough College Exclusion Unit, which serves as an example of troubled youngsters giving back to the community.

Downstairs in the basement, we give out hundreds of clothing items donated by two North Yorkshire communities to refugees and people seeking asylum. The gifts are collected by the organisation 2Dales Action for Refugees, involving people living across Swaledale and Arkengarthdale. Over eighty adults and children benefited from the kindness of Dales folk over the last Christmas period, and Tyne Tees Television were on hand to record a news item based on the stories of refugees and their appreciation for the gifts.

To many, the John Paul Centre is both an important social hub and a sanctuary. All of these activities go hand in hand with the spiritual work coordinated by Father James Benfield.

Middlesbrough has some of the poorest wards in the country and the highest recorded figures for child poverty. In Redcar and Cleveland, the community programme is supporting those affected by the closure of the SSI Steelworks. We have two project workers, one an Anglican and one a Catholic, coordinating many community initiatives. These include a programme called Feast of Fun, which served over 5000 meals to children in the summer holidays. This project has now been extended to cover all the annual school holidays. Food poverty is an alarming issue in the area and we have asked Frank Field MP, and others, including local MP’s who have proved to be very supportive, to take action. We also set up a food bank in Middlesbrough and this has expanded six-fold in the last two years.

We also have a thriving programme for the elderly in Christian parishes throughout the area. The association with Mind and Ageing Better has moved forward this year by the appointment of a project worker to work in Christian and non-Christian settings to support the elderly. We call the new programme “Faithfully Ageing Better” – FAB!

It would be appropriate to conclude, and to demonstrate the ecumenical focus at the heart of the work that Together Middlesbrough and Cleveland does, with the following words.

The Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. Dr. John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, commended the programme for doing “a huge amount to tackle the issues of poverty in Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland”, and stated that he is “very proud that the Diocese of York, in partnership with Church Urban Fund, has taken a lead in making this possible”.

The Rt Revd Terence Patrick Drainey, Bishop of Middlesbrough and Chair of Caritas Social Action Network, and the Rt Revd Paul Ferguson, Anglican Bishop of Whitby, commented how “it’s wonderful that Together Middlesbrough and Cleveland has already opened up more ways to bring hope to so many people”, and that “in Christ’s name we will continue to work so that people can find a way out of poverty, and have dignity, justice and honour.”

This article first appeared in the CSAN ‘Caritas in Action’ column in the Catholic Times on 09.06.17.