Social Action: Reading and Guidance

Last updated 13 August 2019

We are pleased to list below some short and insightful introductions to topical issues around faith-based social action in England and Wales (and further afield), published by other organisations.  These are in the public domain – copyright and the views expressed belong to the authors.

We welcome suggestions of other similar resources – send an email to

[Note to Readers: If you are looking for CSAN publications, please see this page.]

General Introductions

Introduction to Catholic Social Teaching – including reflections from charities and individuals in England and Wales.

Calling People of Goodwill – pocket-sized booklet exploring the common good in the Bible. ‘A real treasure… A great resource’ – Cardinal Nichols.  Produced by Together for the Common Good.  Buy from Bible Society

Keeping the Faith: A Short Guide for Faith-Based Organisations (pdf, 5.7mb) – Theos and Centre for Theology and Community. Practical guidance on sharing faith in the context of serving communities.

The Social Mission of the Church – Thomas Storck, in ‘Distributist Review’ (USA).  A challenge to Catholics, to engage fully in contributing to what Pope St. John Paul called, ‘a civilisation of love‘.

Parish/Community Development

Love in Action – This programme is designed to introduce parish groups to Catholic Social Teaching, and give them the tools to start their own social outreach projects. Created by Caritas Westminster in partnership with CSAN and other Caritas agencies, with materials written by Danny Curtin and Stephen Davies.

Caritas in Action – produced by Caritas Salford (CSAN member). This is an educational and formation programme for schools on Catholic Social Teaching.

Women and Poverty toolkit  (pdf, 2mb) – The National Board of Catholic Women (CSAN member) produced this toolkit to empower women to challenge the system and structures that fail to address poverty, get involved and make a difference.

Positive Faith – Produced by Catholics for AIDS Prevention and Support (CAPS – CSAN member).  This resource encourages and supports Christians struggling with a diagnosis of HIV; explains why faith is important to many people with HIV, and supports parishes on welcoming and involving people with HIV.


The Calix Society – for Catholics recovering from alcoholism; includes guidance on setting up groups in parishes.

Cenacolo UK – residential community for young people overcoming drug use and other addictions.

Integrity Restored – US site for Catholics who regularly view pornography.

Food, Agriculture and Rural Issues

Vocation of the Agricultural Leader – Catholic Rural Life (USA, with international collaboration) – This reflection applies Catholic social thought to contemporary farming and food systems.  It shows how careful formation of agricultural and food system leaders is vital if, in their business practices, they are to serve the common good, promote the dignity of farm workers, and care for the earth.

Housing and Homelessness

How should we respond to people begging? – A reflection by Jon Kurht, former Chief Executive of West London Mission and an adviser to the Government on rough sleeping.

‘Homelessness: Are We Really Helping?’ – Together Middlesbrough and Cleveland, July 2015 (pdf, 0.3mb) – an excellent interpretation of the tensions between voluntary and professional support to people who are homeless, re-framed in terms of grace and truth.  Produced with support from Church Urban Fund.

‘Churches can help provide affordable housing’ (pdf, 0.9mb) – Joint Public Issues Team (Baptists, Church of Scotland, Methodists, URC), 2014.  A useful practical guide for churches on converting their buildings and land into truly affordable housing.  Provides pointers to further contacts.

Hosting Toolkit – No Accommodation Network (NACCOM), July 2017.  Some households offer a spare room free to someone who would otherwise be homeless.  This toolkit shows how to set up a voluntary hosting scheme, and includes case studies.

Influencing local housing development – practical guidance for older people’s groups, though relevant to groups of all ages.

Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery

Through the Santa Marta Group, the Catholic Church is working with international law enforcement agencies on how to help victims.

The Clewer Initiative – training and resources for parish-based action, offered by the Church of England.


Connecting Communities: The Impact of Loneliness and Opportunities for Churches to Respond (pdf, 0.4mb), Church Urban Fund, July 2016.  Churches are uniquely placed to support the lonely people in our communities. Their local presence and existing community life make churches a welcoming place for people of all ages and stages of life.  This paper provides guidance for church activities based on the latest research; it details how we should understand loneliness and how to work most effectively alongside those who feel lonely.

Mental Health and Dementia

Catholic Mental Health Project – offers support, practice resources and small grants to local Catholic communities.  An initiative of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

Dementia and spirituality online toolkit – produced by Welcome Me As I Am and Caritas Social Action Network, this resource reflects on how to accompany those whose lives have been touched by dementia in their spiritual journey – how to understand and nurture the God-given ‘ME’, and so enable deepened practice of our faith.

Tips for a more welcoming and supportive faith community – produced by Faith Action.

Older People

Growing Old Gracefully – A guide for parishes on learning from and caring for older people, which originated from the Catholic Diocese of Leeds.

Anna Chaplaincy offers a supported route to train and recognise parishioners who visit and listen to older people, including those resident in care homes.

Linking Lives supports churches to set up schemes for befriending older people, including some initial grant funding.


Universal Credit: Everything you need to know is a guide from the Church Urban Fund explaining the main features of this state benefit as at May 2019, and how individuals and communities can support those who are trying to obtain it.

Refugees and Migrants

For individual households wishing to host a refugee:

  • In London, contact London Hosting Network, or to read more about London-based refugee projects, Capital Mass (partnership of Anglican Diocese of London with Church Urban Fund) offers an online directory.
  • Outside London, the No Accommodation Network (NACCOM) can help to signpost to a local agency – see this guidance.

For parish groups considering community sponsorship, see our dedicated webpage.


Letter of Pope Francis to the People of God, 20 August 2018.

Safeguarding guidelines of the Roman Catholic Church, produced by Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Services (CSAS), a member of CSAN.

Raising Awareness of Domestic Abuse (pdf, 13mb) – produced by the National Board of Catholic Women (CSAN member).

Work and Faith

Work Matters – Being ‘whole-life disciples’.  The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity has published many resources for individuals and group work, including a ‘Transforming Work‘ programme to support self-organising church/parish groups of up to 12 people.  They also offer a programme for mid-senior level executives. ‘The primary action of the Church in the world is the action of its members in their daily work.’ (Lesslie Newbigin).

Death and care planning

The Art of Dying Well – website produced by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

Dialogue with Public Policy

Caritas Social Action Network has a mandate to engage with policy makers at national and regional levels, as the official agency of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales for domestic social action. Everyone is called to participate in public life as far as they are able, within their individual circumstances and experience. For individual Catholics who want to find out how to engage with decision makers, some introductory guides include:

How to organise a public meeting – produced by the National Justice and Peace Network.

Get to know your MP – guide from CAFOD.

The following materials, designed for a general public audience, may be helpful:

Influencing local government (pdf, 0.6mb) – a brief practical guide from the Sheila McKechnie Foundation/Democracy Matters.

Engaging with your Local Authority and Other Partners (pdf, 5mb) – produced by Commission