For Richer, For Poorer - hearing stories of poverty and partnership

Published: 30th June 2014

'If people are in poverty, then it's their own fault' is a common generalisation, but close encounters with those who experience poverty are proving that is rarely the case.

"Weve had to try and fight against that poisonous, sterile philosophy" said the Rt Revd Jonathan Gledhill, Bishop of Lichfield at a Poverty Hearing in Stafford last weekend. He laid a portion of the blame on national newspapers.

For Richer, For Poorer is a project that began last year by twinning four parishes with significant deprivation with wealthier parishes near by. Theresa & David from Ashmore Park described their experience of struggling to meet basic living needs when thrown into poverty as ill health forced them to stop working. Karen Stanton, vicar of the another partnering parish, leafy rural Kinver brought home the reality that anyone can be experience sudden poverty, with a tale of a well-to-do man who found himself on the street after a relationship breakdown.

The most heart-breaking stories came from Stoke-on-Trent as the holes in state provision can leave legitimate asylum seekers in absolute destitution through a loophole that stops emergency payments once asylum is granted, but further support to find housing, work or even food is prohibited until National Insurance registration is complete weeks or even months later.

Ruth Clay is part-time project worker: "The important thing is to get beyond just talking about this." she says. "The church knows that it needs to love its neighbour but doesnt always know how to do it; knows theres loads of needs, perhaps even knows theres lots of ways we can respond but doesnt see the priority of it."

"But when the church gets involved with the poor, it changes them. It changes the way they relate to each other, it changes the way they relate to their neighbours and it changes the impact we have on society. People start to listen to the Good News because we are being good news, not just saying it."

During the day, artist Oliver Pengilley took the stories and themes that came out and produced a painting in response. Auctioned at the end of the day, the winner immediately invited their partner parish to be the first to hang it in their church as a time-share and talking point about their experiences and new friendships through the project. A3-sized prints will be available via the Transforming Communities office ( or 01922 707864). Costing 10, half of the proceeds will go to Church Action on Poverty and half to the artist.

The next wave of partnerships are beginning to form - to take part or find out more, contact David Primrose, Director of Transforming

Page last updated: Monday 30th June 2014 10:52 AM
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