People can be impoverished in different ways. The most obvious three forms of poverty are those of resources, relationships and identity. These problems are closely interlinked, trapping individuals and whole communities in a ‘web of poverty’ – a growing problem across areas of London.

Living with poverty of resources means more than just not having enough money. it’s about the profound sense of vulnerability and dependency that comes form living hand-to-mouth with no safety net. it can mean living on a low and insecure income, without any or with limited access to the public resources so many of us take for granted.

A poverty of identity occurs when people lack a strong sense of self-worth and a belief in their own ability to respond to challenges. Where these are mission it can lead to depression, low self-esteem, low aspiration, poor mental health and a sense of hopelessness.

A poverty of relationships arises when people have no sens of belonging to anyone or anything; when they lack strong and supportive relationships. This can leave people feeling unworthy of love and unable to give or show love themselves. They can become isolated, expecting to be let down by others.

These issues are complex and intertwined and require holistic responses that acknowledge each person’s unique circumstances and challenges, as well as their strengths and abilities.

Making a positive difference to people’s lives across London is what Capital Mass – a join venture between the Church Urban Fund (CUF) and the Diocese of London – is aiming to do. Capital Mass is part of the Together Network, involving every parish church in the Diocese of London.

The need to tackle poverty and inequality in the capital is more pressing than ever and this missional work falls squarely within the ambitions of Capital Vision 2020, particularly its core aim of becoming ‘more compassionate in serving communities with the love of God.’

Some may only know CUF from when it was established by the Church of England as a practical response to unmet need identified by the Faith in the City report, but it is as active in London now as it was over 30 years ago.

Miriam was 27 when she arrived in London from abroad to study. Over the coming years her situation changed and it was no longer safe for her to return home. Miriam was left isolated in a new country until she encountered the hospitality and friendship from one of our Stepney Parishes.

The parish members helped Miriam access legal advice and raised funds for her living costs. Some of the church members attended a Captial Mass learning community where they learnt how to support someone through the asylum process. This gave them the guidance, knowledge and confidence to support Miriam through her complex and lengthy case.

In 2018, after six years of dedicated effort, Miriam and 20 church friends attended the final court hearing where she was given leave to remain in the UK. The immigration judge said he was ‘very impressed by both the numbers and commitment of the church congregation members in their support for Miriam.’

Miriam’s story is just one example of how Capital Mass has been helping churches tackle poverty and inequality in its varied guises. CUF are keen to work through building trust and empowering local churches to have a go at addressing the areas of greatest need in their communities and speaking out against injustice.

We are committed to working through relational partnerships which bring about long-term, sustainable change by mobilising local people to be the sources of the change they want to see and to use the assets already available in their community.

Be part of making the difference.

The Church Urban Fund works through the Church of England’s local parish networks, and alongside other faith-based and secular organisations, to bring about positive change in neighbourhoods. The website has a unique poverty map and look up tool which can help identify areas of deprivation.