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Letters to the editor >

Hardship and hope in inner cities and outer estates

From the Revd Paul Nicolson
Sir, - The repo Faithful Cities , an< href="/80256fa1003e05c1/httppublicpages/24babc6d789f0f2680257178002d16df?opendocumentFeature, 26 May) makes no recommendations about housing. It rightlsupports the living wage which has been so successfully promoted by the faithand trade unions through London Citizens, but it fails to note that when thLondoners were consulted about the priorities for action by the Mayor, thsecond item on the list was to provide affordable housing.Inadequate incomes interacting with unaffordable housing are a primary causof poverty and inequality in the UK. The right to buy, the transfer of stocfrom councils to housing associations, buy-to-let, and deregulation of lendinare all policies that have reduced the supply of affordable renteaccommodation.Meanwhile, overcrowding, low-quality housing, and long-terbed-and-breakfast accommodation, while waiting to be allocated a permanenhome, damage the health and education of children.It is to be hoped the Churches will give their early attention to thhousing crisi
PAUL NICOLSONChairman, Zacchaeus 2000 Trust
93 Campbell Road
London N17 0BFFrom the Bishop of Bradwell
Sir, - Andy and Liz Dorton arhonest enough to tell us that living on the North Bransholme housing estate haits downside: rarely do people choose to live there. But Andy's article (Features26 May) also tells of how transparent housing estates can be to thpresence within them of the living Christ. On Andy's estate there is no churcbuilding for its  population of 7200, but a few Christians are meetintogether and great things are beginning to happen. Even the estate itself hataught his family "to live beyond the sort of securities we are constantlbeing taught we owe it to ourselves to be able to buy."Estate life teaches us so much about the fundamentals of Christian livingbut it remains a very challenging vocation. That's why the National EstatChurches Network exists - to support clergy and laity who live and work ithese largely forgotten urban places. Sponsoring groups, seminars, conferencesand publications, it's a growing Network, which allows housing- estatChristians to have a louder voice in the Church and nation.On 21 September, our national conference is about inequality and itimplications - an issue at the forefront of the recent Faithful Cities How to bless the poor in spirit", 26 May) begins with a reference to "thHoxton workhouse" where (under its new name of St Matthew's Hospital) I spenmy first three years of ordained ministry as a chaplain. This building was thcontext for Dickens's Oliver Twist. Dickens, we need you now. (The USA has Barbara Ehrenreich.) Of course, thconditions of Victorian England are no more. In some places, conditions arworse. More generally, much of the compassion and anger aroused as a result othe work of Mayhew, Engels, Charles BoothThe Bitter Cry of Outcast London, and the Jack the Ripper murders curiously missing from the article on Josephine Butler in the same issue seems to have evaporated. I hope that Faithful Cities will help to revive iKENNETH LEECH
89 Manchester Road, Mossley
Ashton-under-Lyne OL5 9LZ

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