This information is to help all those within the Diocese regarding warm spaces, information on the cost of living crisis, and local facilities available.

Below you will find links to various help schemes, council tax support, debt management services, energy grants, food banks, and community hubs, as well as national support schemes and charities that are available to help during this challenging time.

St Teresa’s Newbury Park: “there is the weekly lunch club at St John’s Church and Centre, St John’s Road (Newbury Park). This is open every Tuesday and offers a two-course hot meal for just £4.22 to anyone who lives in Redbridge as well as a “warm place” to meet up with friends etc.”

Ss Peter & Paul’s Ilford: “the Ilford Sunday Drop-In Centre which operates out of the Church. This was set up over 30 years ago, and feeds about 35-40 homeless or vulnerably housed people weekly with a hot meal, drink and sandwiches”

Holy Trinity Church, South Woodham Ferrers: has a Foodbank centre at the New Life Church, Clements Green Lane which is open 1000-1200 on Wednesdays and is part of the Chelmsford Foodbank operation. The Church collects donations and delivers them to the Foodbank each week. SWF Health & Social Care Group is also a pastoral project of Holy Trinity Church. Contact details are [email protected] and 01245 322079.

Our Lady of Light & St Osyth Clacton: Is a part of the Churches Together initiative, working for the homeless. The SVP conference feeds approximately 50 to 70 homeless people each Friday morning in the town centre. (Each Church takes on a particular day)

St Stephen’s Manor Park: Here are the addresses of the most local foodbanks at this time. Woodgrange Baptist Church, 345 Romford Road, Forest Gate E7 8AA (0208 555 9880) and St Paul’s Church, 65 Maryland Road, Stratford E15 1JL (0208 534 1164)

St. Helen’s & St. Margaret’s Ongar and Doddinghurst: “Have a Drop-In for anyone who would like to come on the second Tuesday of every month at 2-4pm at St. Margaret’s Hall, Doddinghurst for people to come for a cuppa, crafting, play games and have a chat and would also be a warm place for a couple of hours.   Parish is hosting it but welcomes everyone. The foodbank and local help charity is also operating in the local area and includes a Memory Café.”

Assumption of Our Lady Maldon: The Maldon Food Pantry is an important part of the Maldon Churches Together. Food donations are collected from supermarkets and the community, to donate to people in the area who are in need of a helping hand. We have a collection point for donations at the Church and these are taken weekly by the SVP to the Food Pantry at Elim Pentecostal Church, 17 Wantz Road, Maldon, CM9 5DB. There are also coffee Mornings on the First Sunday of the Month after Sunday mass at Maldon & Burnham in the parish hall and Widow & Widowers Coffee morning every Tuesday in the church hall at Maldon from 10am.

St George’s Shoeburyness: Have a close relationship with the SVP Centre in Southend, who deliver food and clothing parcels, provides a hot meal service through Kindness Kitchens, offer one2one counselling, befriending, furniture delivery service and delivery of all our other services for those that can not access them, as well as a large inclusive volunteering programme.

Holy Family Dagenham: Have a food bank set up in conjunction with The Trussel Trust which has been in operation since July 2022 and opens on Sundays only from 1-3pm offering food and essentials to people with vouchers issued by local accredited authorities. It is a registered foodbank run by trained parishioners. Clients use the front entrance to the church and are welcomed by the foodbank team/helpers.

These are a few ideas for parishes, schools and other public places who want to help.

Community Welcome

  • Invite people together, listen to their experiences, their worries, hear their suggestions.
  • Reach out to the margins, be inclusive.
  • Continue (or start) your synodal journey, address the points raised in the first sessions, reach the people that you didn’t have time to engage.
  • Look at what else is available locally in other faith and community settings – share a list, rotate with others, fill the gaps, initiate a conversation at your next local meeting of Churches Together, Faith Forum etc.

Build on what you already have…

  • Extend tea/coffee after Mass.
  • Change/add to your existing gatherings e.g bring and share food, meet more
  • Have a warm meal during group meetings.
  • Support your local SVP and help them to fundraise or recruit.
  • Laudato Si and Live Simply groups

Start something simple…

  • Introduce a film night, games night, prayer, reflection, poets’ corner
  • Start a simple Soup and Scripture club
  • Provide a hot community meal
  • Create a parish library ‘reading room’
  • Get in contact with local SVP, Citizens TELCO organisers, CAFOD reps etc.
  • Start cooking lessons – eg with a free slow cooker.
  • Have free wifi/computer banks for job search, universal credit or other needs.
  • Have a “digital champion” on hand to help people learn new tech skills.
  • See what help might be available from your local authority.

Save energy…

  • Invite an energy saving expert in to speak (see below).
  • Share cost saving ideas, start a self-reliance group.
  • Appoint a Laudato Si’ representative in your parish and begin conversations
  • Begin Live Simply group in your parish with CAFOD.
  • Start a repair shop (sewing, bikes, electronics), or advice shop (phones & computers).
  • Hold a second-hand clothing sale and a clothes recycling bin.
  • Collect for your local foodbanks

Raise Financial Resilience

  • Set up a funding circle in your parish.
  • Sign up to Acts 435
  • Open a branch of a credit union.

Social Justice

  • Learn about Catholic Social Teaching.
  • Get savvy about Economics, Politics and Faith.
  • Learn about Community Organising.
  • Invite your local councillor in to share stories and solutions.
  • Discuss these topics with your youth/sacrament groups.

Find out more about: Green Doctors and National Energy Action

Thank you to Caritas Diocese of Westminster for sharing these ideas. (website)