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Church of Ireland publishes practical guide for parishioners to respond to cost of living crisis

by Tola Mbakwe

The Church of Ireland's Church and Society Commission has published a short booklet with suggestions for how parishes and Christian ministries in their local communities can help to serve people in need.

It comes after the Irish Bishops' Conference called for Catholics to lobby against poverty during the cost of living crisis during its Autumn General Assembly last week. 

Practical Action on the Cost of Living summarises a discussion held at the meeting, when representatives from Church of Ireland dioceses around the country shared stories about how their parishes are proactively responding as the cost of living crisis continues. 

They gave examples of people recycling surplus clothing, supporting food banks, making and sharing meals together, and opening up church property as warm spaces.

Several more examples were put forward about what more can be done over the coming months, along with ideas for the best overall approaches for responding locally. They include organising local events that relieve boredom, emotionally supporting those who've lost their homes due to financial difficulties, and prioritising heating parish buildings for events which intentionally invite neighbours.

Archbishop Michael Jackson, Chair of the Church and Society Commission, who organised the meeting, remarks: "The escalation in the cost of living affects everyone. It affects those on modest incomes, on pensions, and those with no money at all most acutely and most immediately. The time of crisis is now.  

"The booklet in a small but heartfelt way seeks to provide some pointers about how help is being made available through local ministries, and where a range of people is ready to come to your assistance."

Last week, bishops acknowledged that some measures in the Government's Budget 2023 will address aspects of the cost of living and energy crisis in the short-term, but believe the budget's one-off payments will not deal with the growth in the levels poverty in our society and the increasing gap between rich and poor.

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