New resources to help tackle the Cost of Living Crisis

There is little doubt that we are seeing many more people in desperate need in our parishes, often as a result of cuts to local services, high cost of living, and ongoing changes to the type and level of benefits available. Not only are people coming to churches for help and support, but members of our congregations who are regular attendees are also finding themselves in increasingly challenging circumstances.

Many people are overwhelmed by the systemic process involved in getting information and help. These resources have been put together to assist those of you on the frontline in supporting people in need. Whatever role you play in your parish, we hope that you will find the following information useful.

Hard copies of these resources have been sent to all parishes in the Diocese.

Signposting People In Your Parish

Rising Cost of Living: Support for Individuals & Families

Together Southwark encourages initiatives that help build the resilience of families.  That could be one or more of these:

  • Assisting team working on your project scoping if you are thinking about starting a project to support your parish community but are not sure about where to start.
  • If you have been running a successful project and are looking for funding or training opportunities to sustain it, Together Southwark can assist with that information.
  • Another way the charity works with churches is by fostering new partnerships with existing projects. This has been very successful in the development of the support offered to communities (e.g. Last year, our Lunchbox Library projects received Department of Education grants through a collaboration between Together Southwark and Kitchen Social, Lambeth Council and Southwark Council).
  • If you simply require a second opinion on your completed grant application, there will be upcoming grant advice surgery sessions starting in 2022. In the meantime, this is done from time to time.
  • Contact our Development Officer, Nelly Misenga, to discuss any of the above further.


Over the years the gap between the rich and poor has widened in the country due to multiple factors including low supply of affordable housing, housing costs, low-paid and insecure jobs and overall wages not keeping up with the higher cost of living. A significant number of families and individuals are struggling to make ends meet.

This problem is particularly acute in London:

  • Food bank provision increased by 128% in the 6 months to September 2020.
  • Total number of people on benefits increased by 44% between August 2019 and August 2020.
  • 2.5 million people live in poverty: 28% of the population compared to 22% across the UK, and 39% of the UKME population.
  • 76% of children in poverty in London are in working families. This has increased from 52% a decade ago.
  • 250,000 pensioners in London lived in poverty in 2017/18.
  • Trust for London, London’s Poverty Profiles 2020 and 2021.

As well as material poverty, there is also the growing issue of social isolation and loneliness and related consequences for people’s mental health which we cannot afford to ignore.

These are just a handful of the issues facing communities. Together Southwark is committed to doing all it can to support churches in these areas of work and foster partnership with communities to respond to such needs.

Areas of Work

Our work is based in South London and part of East Surrey, the area covered by the Diocese of Southwark.

Food Poverty

An increasing number of households up and down the country are faced with a daily struggle to make ends meet. Testimonies abound of parents skipping meals so their children can have enough to eat. We can see the struggle in our Lunchbox Library projects which offer a combination of hot lunch, fun activities and reading for fun with the children. For many of these children, that food tends to be their only hot meal of the day. So, it has been heart-breaking to see parents pack bags of apples and pears in prams to fill up stomachs in the evening when children would feel hungry again.

Holiday Provision – Lunchbox Library

This is a partnership with local churches, schools, community groups and voluntary organisations in collaboration with local authorities to assist an increasing number of families who are struggling to make ends meet during school holidays, particularly the long summer holidays.

Lunchbox Library hubs provide a safe environment offering children aged between 5 to 13 years old a hot, nutritious and tasty meal, a wide range of fun activities and reading for pleasure with the children, which helps prevent the trend for their reading skills to dip over the holidays. Accompanying adults are encouraged to stay and join in the activities as well. That has helped create a good community atmosphere in which children and accompanying adults can socialise and learn budget tasty recipes. Furthermore, using this approach has enabled us to sign-post accompanying adults for additional support for a longer-term impact. Do get in touch with our team if your church would like to join us in this project to support more children and their families.

Lambeth Holiday Provision Steering Group

Together Southwark co-created the Steering Group which brings together local organisations, community groups and public sector organisations for a more coordinated approach to holiday provision projects and a sharing of resources through collaboration. The partnership has resulted in a joint bid and four successful holiday hubs which have run across four sites since 2018. Do get in touch if you would like to join.

Member of Southwark Food Action Alliance

Together Southwark has prioritised initiatives that help build the resilience of families beyond school holidays. Through the Southwark Food Action Alliance, facilitated by the Public Health Division of Southwark Council, Together Southwark has contributed to strategic work on food security with other member organisations and groups. That work has included a three-year plan titled Fairer Food Southwark: A Borough-wide Action Plan to Increase Household Food Security.

Community Building

We want our communities to flourish and enjoy life in all its fullness. But, of course, every community is different, and the changes people are looking for will be different too.

That’s why Together Southwark believes in bringing people together and helping them work together to improve things in their own neighbourhoods. We help churches and communities decide what they want to do, and then we draw on our contacts, knowledge and experience to help create individual projects that will bring about positive change. Do get in touch if you would like to discuss your project.

Loneliness and Social Isolation

Everyone needs friendship and conversation. Yet we know that loneliness and social isolation are real issues for lots of people in the UK – of all ages. And the number of people who describe themselves as lonely is growing every year. This can have a detrimental effect on the wellbeing of a person, in turn preventing them to actively contribute to society.

Working with parishes and external charities, Together Southwark has already enabled the creation of Places of Welcome. We also support the inclusion of successful schemes trialled by external partners to avoid duplication. And we will not stop there, because we understand just how important it is to be able to have flourishing communities.

Places of Welcome

Places of Welcome is a growing network of local churches and community groups providing their neighbourhoods with places where all people feel safe to belong, connect and contribute. It started in the West Midlands. They are run by local churches and community groups who want everyone in their neighbourhood to have a place to go to for a friendly face, a cup of tea and a conversation. The difference with a usual coffee morning is that people are given a chance to actively contribute in the running of activities and with sharing their gifts and skills with others.

For more information visit the Places of Welcome website.  If you would like to set one up, get in touch with our team.

Love Your Neighbour

Volunteer teams across the UK are delivering food to people in need, phoning the isolated, providing specialised advice and offering support to local hospitals.

Love Your Neighbour has already partnered with some churches in the Diocese such as St Peter’s, Brockley.

For more information contact the Love Your Neighbour team.

Two’s Company

A telephone befriending tool for local churches, developed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic by Linking Lives, a charity working to reduce social isolation.

The model is based on a home visiting approach which has been used by the charity since 2012. It offers a clear framework for befriending, ongoing support for the coordinator and a variety of resources for local churches to use. We have organised a partnership event together.

For more information visit the Linking Lives website.

Resources for churches and deaneries

Warm Spaces

It all started with the Warm Welcome Campaign in a response to the cost-of-living crisis. The campaign was started by a consortium of churches, faith organisations and voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector organisations in partnership with the public and private sector.

Warm Spaces have gone beyond offering individuals and families have a warm space. Our church teams have contributed to create a community atmosphere. People have enjoyed chatting with each other, playing board games, relaxing with a newspaper, and were offered hot drinks and nibbles, and sometime a light lunch where possible. However, you do not have to offer all of the above.

To set and successfully run a Warm Space at your church and for information on grants to offset heating costs, please follow this guidance resource: Warm Spaces_ Warm Hubs

Please remember to add you church on the Warm Welcome map by following this link, to make it easier to find you and signpost individuals and families who live closer to you.

How to setup a foodbank

Setting up a food bank: the how

There is more detailed information available in a set of linked annexes and factsheets.

Disclaimer: The information is intended only to help you consider what is needed. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are operating legally, and the Diocese of Southwark takes no responsibility for the operation of any individual service.

Signposting people in Your parish

We have pulled together a series of resources that could prove useful for those who are in need of help or support.  Signposting People in Your Parish



Mental Health

Empathy and a well-structured pastoral engagement with and between church members will help in reducing the isolation of its members as well as of other people in the wider community.

We have put together a selection of resources which we hope you will find useful to look at how churches can create space to talk about mental health and wellbeing with their congregations, and the challenges of poor mental health among people in the wider community. Some of the resources such as the Money Saving Expert Mental Health Guide are designed for a wider audience and so can be used by secular organisations and community groups as well.

Mental Health Access Pack has resources covering more than ten mental health subjects to help churches support people struggling with mental health issues.

Feel free to contact us at Together Southwark for more information and if your church would like to discuss existing and new projects with us.

Risk Assessment

Conducting a risk assessment is very important for any type of project and activity, and even more when dealing with vulnerable individuals. If you do not a risk assessment model in place yet, you are encouraged to use the templates below produced by Ecclesiastical.

Connect with us on social media

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Our Team

The Bishop of Croydon, The Rt Revd Dr M Rosemarie Mallett - Trustee

For 13 years, Canon Rosemarie served as the vicar of an inner-city church in south London, and as chair of the board of governors of the local church school. For the last 5 years of that time, she also served as the Director of the department of Justice, Peace & the Integrity of Creation in the Diocese of Southwark. Since March 2020, she had been serving as the Archdeacon of Croydon, and has recently taken up post as the Bishop of Croydon.

Revd Erica Wooff, Vicar of Stockwell Parish St Andrew and St Michael - Trustee

Erica is Vicar of Stockwell Parish, SW9 and has worked on community development, educational development and fundraising projects for the tertiary sector for over twenty years.  She is also a trustee of the Southwark Diocesan Board of Education.

Nicola Thomas, Diocesan Secretary - Trustee

Nicola is the Diocesan Secretary. She was previously a Senior Civil Servant in the Home Office, most recently leading on integration for refugees and safeguarding of vulnerable asylum seekers. She is also a trustee of the Caritas Social Action Network.

Nelly Misenga - Development Officer

Nelly Misenga has worked in International Development and Community Development among communities for more than 10 years and feels this is her calling.  She joined the Team of Together Southwark in 2015.

The South London Church Fund and Southwark Diocese Board of Finance is a company limited by guarantee (No. 236594).
Registered Office: Trinity House, 4 Chapel Court, Borough High Street, London SE1 1HW. Registered Charity: (No. 249678).

© The Diocese of Southwark 2024. All rights reserved.
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