Every day of our lives we are called upon to make choices and the season of Advent is an appropriate time to consider the choices that will shape our lives and the lives of others.
Next week, just one week after the Chancellor’s autumn statement, foodbanks across the country are gearing up for the annual ‘Neighbourhood Food Collection’. Many will choose to donate items of food at their local supermarkets to help others enjoy the season of ‘peace and goodwill to all’ Individuals, small groups and a number of local pubs are already preparing to host Christmas meals and fellowship for our brothers and sisters unable to provide well for themselves. This is surely entering into the true spirit of Christmas. At the grassroots level, the real world for most people, we can see solidarity at work where we see a need and then respond. How often do we hear such remarks as ‘there but for the grace of God…….’?
In its recent report (UK poverty: Causes, costs and solutions. Sept.16) the Joseph Rowntree Foundation states that ‘UK poverty is real, costly and harmful’
How can this be right when the IMF predicts that ours will ‘be the fastest growing major advanced economy in the world this year’, In his autumn statement the Chancellor speaks of raising productivity and building an economy that works for everyone, so why then do so many feel excluded?
Whilst acknowledging some positive aspects in the statement, there remains a huge disconnect between the decision makers and those who bear the heaviest burden of such policies.
We must consider and challenge our elected representatives for the choices made on our behalf. In the words of Pope Francis do we say ‘no to an economy of exclusion and inequality’ (Evangelii Gaudium: para.53) and invest in mental and physical health and well-being, social housing and access to good education to build a good society. Or do we seek productivity and profit whatever the human cost.
Anne Peacey. Chair – NJPN