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Cost-of-living crisis: four in ten UK adults seeking help, says C of E poll

23 December 2022

Estimated 2.6 million people are turning specifically to churches, but figure may be higher, says Bishop

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Two-thirds of adults who turned to churches for help have received groceries from a foodbank

Two-thirds of adults who turned to churches for help have received groceries from a foodbank

THE cost-of-living crisis has driven a total of almost 40 per cent UK adults to seek help, with food at the top of the list of needs, a new poll commissioned by the Church of England suggests.

Of the 2061 adults surveyed by Savanta between 9 and 12 December, 38 per cent said they had sought help of some kind, and five per cent (the population equivalent of about 2.6 million people) had turned to churches or other religious organisations for support — a proportion which the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, has described as significant.

Of this group, two-thirds said that they had received free food or groceries from a foodbank or a similar provision; half had received low-cost food or groceries, or hot food; 40 per cent said had been provided with warm spaces (News, 9 December).

The findings were published on the C of E website on Thursday.

Bishop Butler, who is the lead bishop on issues of welfare, said: “Churches have been providing a lifeline to people struggling to balance the household budgets and provide for their families through food banks, food clubs, and other forms of hospitality for many years.

“The cost-of-living crisis has seen churches step up this support, with many providing warm spaces through the Warm Welcome campaign this winter for people struggling to heat their homes.”

The charity Church Action on Poverty (CAP) has described the spaces, which include churches and public buildings, as “beacons of warmth and friendship”.

Of the people who had sought help from churches, ten per cent were in London, another 10 per cent were in the West Midlands, six per cent were in the south-east, and five per cent were in the north-west.

In terms of socio-economic groups, the greatest number seeking help from churches were in Social Grade AB (47 respondents, representing eight per cent), and the lowest in the group DE (14, representing three per cent).

Generally, younger people were finding the cost-of-living crisis particularly difficult. While two-thirds (61 per cent) of all UK adults surveyed said that they had not sought help in 2022, the figure fell to 24 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds, and 30 per cent of 25- to 34-year-olds.

Help was generally sought first from family (24 per cent of the sample);14 per cent turned to friends, and eight per cent went to their local authority. More women (672) than men (580) had chosen not to seek help.

Bishop Butler concluded: “The figure of nearly three million people seeking help from church or other religious organisations since the start of this year is almost certainly an underestimate of the extent of the support, as many visit church-run food banks and food clubs in order to provide for their families and wider households.”

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