Cost of Living Toolkit
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Soaring prices and a fall in real disposable income have created a cost of living crisis across the UK. The aftermath of the pandemic, rising food and energy bills as a result of war and global crisis, and ongoing trading delays have coalesced to form a perfect storm which could see the biggest cut in living standards since the 1950s.
As Christians we are called to help those in need, and to practice and embody our faith through loving service and the pursuit of justice. As James famously challenges us, "if a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?" (James 2.15-16).
I know that the LORD maintains the cause of the needy, and executes justice for the poor.Psalm 140.12
Context in Wales
Almost a quarter of people in Wales live in poverty, and Llandaff covers some of the most deprived parts of Wales, with 6 of the 10 most deprived within the diocese. The South Wales Valleys are areas of particular need, with over half of working age adults out of work.
Covid has exacerbated an already difficult situation. Over a third of low income Welsh families with children had to increase their spending during the pandemic in 2020 to survive, and around 400,000 people fell behind on paying their bills. This is likely to get worse as energy prices surge. Up to 45% of households in Wales are in fuel poverty, with 8% in extreme fuel poverty – having to spend more than 20% of their income to keep warm. An anticipated rise in the energy price cap in the autumn will push this even further. This is despite Wales being a net exporter of energy, exporting more energy than it consumes (around 27% of Wales’s energy generation comes from renewables).
The Welsh Government’s devolution settlement means responding to this crisis is complex. Though there is much the Welsh Government can and is doing, wider systemic change is driven my Westminster.
How You Can Help
Food Banks play a significant role in supporting families in poverty - in the last year food banks in the Trussell Trust network provided more than 2.1 million food parcels to people across the UK. You can find a map of all the Trussell Trust food banks here: www.trusselltrust.org/get-help/find-a-foodbank
However to access a food bank you usually need a voucher issued by care professionals such as a health visitor, staff at school, or social workers. Therefore many who may need support from a food bank can’t or won’t access one. Fortunately there are a variety of other schemes that churches and Ministry Areas can utilize to provide food at low or no cost to their community.
Social Supermarkets and Pantries
Social supermarkets and community pantries are alternative models of food provision for those who are struggling. Rather then providing a set package of free food and staples, social supermarkets and pantries enable families to choose from dozens of products which they pay for, but receive a significant discount. This usually comes in the form of a membership fee and/or a weekly fee for the groceries purchased. So, for a membership fee of say £10 a year, a social supermarket or pantry may enable members to do their weekly shop for a fee of £5, but receive shopping worth up to 6 times more - saving roughly £1,000 over the course of a year. These social supermarkets and pantries help support individuals who can't or won't access provision from a food bank, offer greater freedom of choice when shopping, and help reduce food waste by acquiring short-dated or unsuitable stock from local supermarkets and suppliers.
Social supermarkets and pantries can be independently set-up and run, such as Christ Church Spitalfields in London, or part of larger networks across the UK. Your Local Pantry is an example of a UK-wide network offering fresh, tinned, frozen and chilled foods to specific local communities who join as a members. Members pay a small subscription of a few pounds a week, and in return can choose groceries worth many times more.
You can find more information on Your Local Pantry on their website: www.yourlocalpantry.co.uk
Big Bocs Bwyd
Big Bocs Bwyd is a schools project, providing ‘pay as you feel’ shops on school sites, usually in fully kitted-out shipping containers, alongside opportunities for children to grow and cook food. There are number of Big Bocs Bwyd projects already within the diocese, including in Barry, Cardiff, Bridgend, Maesteg and Brackla.
We’d like to encourage Ministry Areas to consider exploring Big Bocs Bwyd projects with their local schools, either supporting ones already in existence or working with schools to develop new ones. They present a create opportunity to teach children and provide low-cost food to their families.
We're also eager to explore whether this model would work within the church itself, using a shipping container to provide a ‘pay as you feel’ shop within the church grounds.
You can find much more information on Big Bocs Bwyd project, including videos of successful Big Bocs Bwyds in school across South Wales, on their website: www.bigbocsbwyd.co.uk
Across the diocese a number of our churches are providing their own community food banks, pantries or markets. Father Gareth Coombes and the amazing team at Taff Bargoed have had huge success with theirs:
Christians Against Poverty
Christians Against Poverty (CAP) provides free debt help and local community groups offering free, church run local services that provide practical and emotional support to those struggling. Whilst many struggling with the cost of living will simply be seeing their income squeezed and not be struggling with debt, CAP projects are still useful tools to support people to get more from their money.
As the diocese is fully committed to supporting our communities with the cost of living, funding is being made available to support Ministry Areas in introducing a variety of CAP projects, and can provide support through the Outreach team to get these projects up and running.
The CAP Money Course is a free course that teaches budgeting skills and a simple, cash-based system that works. In a few weeks it teaches attendees how to get to grips with their finances so they can budget, save and prevent debt. It provides churches with an impactful but relatively easy to operate offer for people in their wider community. It can also be delivered online or in person.
Volunteers from Ministry Areas are trained by CAP to become CAP Money Coaches, who in turn are able to run the course in their churches.
CAP Money costs either a one-off fee of £15 per volunteer trained as a CAP Money Coach, with additional fees for resources through the CAP Money online shop, or a monthly fee of £20 to train 3 CAP Money Coaches, an allowance for resources of up to £70 a year, and free bolt-ons to offer the courses tailored for kids, youth and students. The diocese can support Ministry Areas with these costs.
CAP Job Clubs help jobseekers gain the tools, skills and confidence they need to step back into employment, potentially having a significant impact on family finances and the wider community. CAP Job Clubs combine practical and emotional support, and are highly recommended by the Department of Work and Pensions.
To run a Job Club, Ministry Areas need to recruit at Job Club Manger who can work or volunteer for 6 to 8 hours a week (which can be spread across the week and split between volunteers). A couple of volunteers will also be needed to assist the Job Club Manager to run the group, and require regular access to a room for training and a computer with internet access and a printer.
CAP in-turn provide training and ongoing support, including materials to run their eight-week interactive Steps to Employment Course, covering topics such as identifying strengths, CV writing, and interview techniques. This course has been designed to be an easy and effective way to practically equip Job Club members, in a supportive environment that boosts confidence and morale, showing God's love in a relevant, impactful and transformative way.
This project requires a monthly partnership contribution of £60 a month, but the diocese will support with these costs.
Building on the principles of the CAP Money Course, CAP Life Skills gives people the confidence and decision making skills they need to survive on a low income. It teaches people practical money saving techniques, such as cooking on a budget, living healthily on less, and making money go further.
To run Life Skills, Ministry Areas will need to recruit a Life Skills Manager who can work or volunteer for 8 to 10 hours a week (which can be spread across the week and split between volunteers). A couple of volunteers will also be needed to assist the Life Skills Manager to run the group, and require regular access to a room for training, preferably with a kitchen, and a computer with internet access and a printer.
CAP will provide training and ongoing support for Ministry Areas to equip those struggling on low incomes in their communities to budget and manage life’s pressures. This includes materials to run the eight week course, and also includes ongoing support for coaches from a dedicated team at CAP’s head office.
This project requires a monthly partnership contribution of £60 a month, but the diocese will support with these costs.
As mentioned above, over a third of low income Welsh families with children had to increase their spending during the pandemic to survive, and around 400,000 people fell behind on paying their bills. We already know that there are many in our communities whose lives are have been devastated as a result of debt, struggling to feed their families and feeling depressed and alone. As the Cost of Living crisis deepens, this will only get worse.
CAP Debt Centres provide debt counselling to lift people out of debt and poverty. Ministry Areas will need to recruit a Debt Centre Manager who can work a minimum of 16 hours a week (either as a volunteer or as an employee), and provide them with a computer, internet and phone. Ministry Areas will also need to recruit volunteers willing to support the Centre Manager and CAP clients within the community.
In-turn, CAP provides Ministry Areas with all the training and support needed to offer a professional debt counselling tool that’s proven to help some of the most vulnerable in society.
CAP do all the debt counselling centrally, including insolvency options, allowing Centre Managers to focus on supporting clients spiritually and practically. This means Ministry Areas won’t have to worry about all the financial and legal knowledge, as this is delivered by the CAP caseworkers at their head office.
Debt counselling is highly regulated, requiring authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). CAP is authorised by the FCA and covered by insurance. CAP's size and expertise mean that they have all the necessary permissions and a compliance team to stay on top of the regulation — an almost impossible task for a church to do on their own. Clients can also book appointments and speak directly to their assigned caseworkers Monday to Friday, with phone lines open 9:30am-5pm.
The cost to CAP of the Debt Centre model is significant - in excess of £21,000 per year per centre. As CAP are eager to see Debt Centres supporting people, the contribution required is around £600 per month, in addition to the salary of the Centre Manager if not a voluntary position. Though the diocese is able to support introduction of Debt Centres, in dialogue with CAP we have identified four gaps in provision where we feel Debt Centres would be best deployed - Cardiff (particularly the South Cardiff or Gabalfa and Tremorfa Ministry Areas), the Merthyr Tydfil Ministry Area, the Pontypridd Ministry Area and the Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr Ministry Area. If you're from those Ministry Areas please do get in touch.
You can find much more information on CAP, their projects, and the significant impact they have across the UK, on their website: www.capuk.org
Not every CAP project will be right for every Ministry Area. If you’re interested in exploring the introduction of a CAP project, want advice on which might be best for your area, or support in setting one up, then the Outreach team are here to help.
Contact Christoph Auckland, Senior Outreach Officer, at
Period poverty is the lack of access to sanitary products due to financial constraints. More than a third of women and girls aged 14-21 in the UK struggled to afford or access period products during the Coronavirus pandemic, and as the cost of living crisis worsens, these figures are only likely to increase. We believe the church can play a huge role in eradication period poverty in Wales, by providing period products, free of charge, at churches, church halls and other sites across our Ministry Areas.
Hey Girls is an incredible charity that supports community organisations to do just that, by providing ethically sourced, organic and cruelty free period products to give out for free. Products should be made available to all, in a discrete way, with no pretext, obligation or barriers.
The team at St Winifred's, Penrhiwceiber, have been partnering with Hey Girls for a few years to support those in need in their community, where it has been a huge success:
You can find more information on Hey Girls on their website: www.heygirls.co.uk
Baby Basics is a volunteer-led project that seeks to support new mothers and families who are struggling to meet the financial and practical burden of looking after a new baby. They provide much needed essentials and equipment to those mothers and families who are unable to provide these items for themselves; such as teenage mums, people seeking asylum, and women fleeing domestic abuse.
Working with midwives, health visitors, and other professional groups , Baby Basics aims to provide support directly where it is most needed by providing a ‘Moses Basket’ of clothing, toiletries, and essential baby equipment to new mothers, as well as offering larger equipment such as prams and cots where it is needed.
There are currently three Baby Basics sites within the diocese, one in the Vale of Glamorgan run by Coastlands Family Church, Barry, and two by our incredible churches - Baby Basics Penrhiwceiber run by the incredible volunteers at St Winifred's, and Baby Basics Port Talbot from the amazing team at St. Mary's. Contact these centres directly if you're interested in collecting and donating items - a list of what's needed and the condition required can be found online at www.baby-basics.org.uk/how-to-get-involved/giving-supplies
You can find more information on Baby Basics on their website: www.baby-basics.org.uk
If you’re interested in setting up a Baby Basics site in your church or ministry area, the Outreach team are here to support you, including help in accessing grant fund from the Cinnamon Network.
Contact Christoph Auckland, Senior Outreach Officer, at
Struggling with the cost of living has an enormous toll on our emotional wellbeing. Many parents will be opting to go hungry to feed their children, or switching off heating to reduce bills. It's vital that we look out for the emotional wellbeing of those around us as we reach out to meet their immediate physical needs.
Though holidays seem like a luxury, for many it offers families an opportunity for quality time together, away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, where they can building meaningful relationships that strengthen their bonds. For so many the idea of a holiday is a distant dream, a dream even more unlikely as costs increase.
Our incredible friends at Mother's Union Llandaff have a static caravan at Trecco Bay, Porthcawl, which is available for free to families in Llandaff for a weeks holiday. Mother's Union also provide toys, books and some food vouchers during their stay. Clergy can make a referral to Mother's Union for a family to receive a holiday. Contact Lowrie Washington Jones, the Action and Outreach Coordinator for Mother's Union Llandaff, at email@example.com or telephone 02922 218 982.
The financial stress of the cost of living crisis is likely to give perpetrators of domestic abuse more opportunities to exert control over their partners. 16% of adults in the UK have experienced economic abuse in an intimate relationship, and it's estimated that £14.4 billion of debt in the UK is tied directly to economic abuse. The lack of access to money and high levels of debt will create huge barriers for survivors trying to live independently, potentially trapping them with their abuser. Mothers in particular face losing their children, as fathers tend to have more money and better resources to fight for custody.
The diocese is committed to having a least one church in each Ministry Area registered as a Restored Beacon. Restored Beacons are a network of churches around the country, standing together against gender-based violence and domestic abuse and providing a place of safety for survivors. They seek to create safer churches for those subjected to abuse and challenge these cultural and societal norms that justify or ignore violence against women.
More information on Restored Beacons can be found on the Restored website at www.restored-uk.org. If you’re interested in your church or Ministry Area getting involved as a Restored Beacon, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute. Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.Proverbs 31.8-9
We believe that when we speak together, we can use our voice bring about real change at a political level – whether over devolved matters in the Senedd or UK-wide at Westminster.
The current cost of living crisis has a complex array of causes, and there are no simple solutions. However, the diocese feels much more can be done to support those likely to face difficulty in the coming months.
Thousands of staff and volunteers across the country are working daily to help people in their communities but, as The Trussell Trust says, they shouldn't be picking up the pieces of the UK Government's inaction in the face of a crisis of this scale. We are joining The Trussell Trust's call on the UK Government to urgently increase benefit payments by at least 7% to keep pace with inflation and, in the longer term, to introduce a commitment in the benefits system to make sure everyone has enough money in their pockets to prevent destitution. You can sign the Trussell Trusts petition online at https://action.trusselltrust.org/Cost-of-living-petition
With our partners at Citizens Cymru, the Diocese of Llandaff has been supporting the living wage campaign across Wales. Launched by Citizens UK in 2001, the Living Wage campaign has won over £1.8 billion of additional wages, lifting over 260,000 people in the UK out of working poverty. Alongside Citizens Cymru, we’re campaigning to ask employers, particularly health boards and local authorities in Wales, to step up and ensure that all their staff and contractors, from cleaners, to security guards to catering staff, get at least the real Living Wage - currently £9.90. If you're Ministry Area is interested in getting involved in the campaign for a living wage with Citizens Cymru, you can email Citizen Cymru's Community Organiser, Richard Weaver, at email@example.com
Write to your MP/MS
The Cost of Living is going to affect many people in different ways, and we want to help you to raise your voice for justice on the specific issues you care about. Writing to your Member of Parliament or your Member of the Senedd/Aelodau o'r Senedd is a simple but effective tool to get your voice heard, and together we can boost that voice and make a real difference to people's lives. You can find the contact details of your MP and MS/AS here: https://www.writetothem.com/. If you'd like some advice or support in writing to your Member of Parliament or Member of the Senedd/Aelodau o'r Senedd then we're here to help. Please contact Christoph Auckland, the Senior Outreach Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Almighty and most merciful God,
We hold before you all for whom life is difficult.
Those who must chose between eating or heating,
those who fear starvation or eviction,
those who go without so their children do not.
Open our eyes to their struggle,
open our ears to their needs,
and open our hearts to respond.
May we never forget that what we do to the least in the world,
we do to you.
Unite us all in your work of mercy and service,
mobilise us to help all of those struggling in our communities,
and empower us to fight for justice against poverty and oppression.
Grant these things, Father, for the love of your Son Jesus Christ,
who dwelt alongside us in the difficulty and mess of our human lives.