The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby was in Shropshire today visiting a debt centre run by the churches of Market Drayton.
One of a network of centres run by the charity Christians Against Poverty, the archbishop spent over two hours listening and talking to clients and volunteers individually before talking to the gathered crowd and praying a blessing over them.
He was invited by the centre manager, Carolyn Lawrence and also met by town centre vicar, Revd Catherine McBride and the bishop of Shrewsbury, Rt Revd Sarah Bullock.
The centre provides course to help people avoid debt in the first place as well as counselling and support when they do have debt issues. Despite being one of Shropshire's pleasant market towns, the area has parts that fall in the top 10% of deprivation in England. One of the significant issues picked up by the archbishop is the poor public transport making it harder for anyone without their own transport to find employment.
The Christians Against Poverty model begins with a single sponsoring church in an area - in this case, St Mary's Market Drayton, but in reality the centre in Market Drayton is a cooperative effort of the two anglican churches together with the Catholic and Methodist churches - and much of the activity including today's meeting now takes place there.