Our ESRC funded Life on the Breadline research officially ended in September 2021 but the team remain busy engaging with Church responses to poverty and beyond. Here are some updates and new resources:

1. New article ‘Politics, Poverty and the Church in an “Age of Austerity”‘

Chris Shannahan and Stephanie Denning have published a new open access article in the journal ‘Religions’. The article represents the first fieldwork-led analysis of the multidimensional nature of austerity-age poverty by academic theologians in the UK.

An inner city church running a community café. Credit: Beth Waters

The article analyses the impact that austerity has had on Christian responses to poverty and inequality in the UK. We draw on our six ethnographic case studies and interview responses from over 120 national and regional Church leaders to exemplify the four approaches to the Christian engagement with poverty that we identified during our research: ‘caring’, ‘campaigning and advocacy’, ‘enterprise’ and ‘community building’.

We argue that the Church needs to grasp the systemic, multidimensional and violent nature of poverty in order to realise the potential embedded in its extensive social capital and fulfil its goal of ‘transforming structural injustice’. The paper shows that the Church remains nervous of moving beyond welfare-based responses to poverty and suggests that none of the existing approaches can force poverty into retreat until the Church re-imagines itself as a liberative movement that embodies God’s preferential option for the poor in every aspect of its life and practice. Click here to read the article in full.

2. Life on the Breadline’s Report for Church Leaders

‘Christmas at the foodbank’. Credit: Beth Waters

Have you seen the Life on the Breadline Report for Church Leaders?

Coming directly from the findings of our three years of research with national, regional and local Churches in the UK responding to poverty in the context of austerity, the report gives key recommendations for Theology and Mission, Local Church Life, and Christian Social Action and Anti-Poverty Activism. Read the report here.

3. Sign up to the blog for Stephanie’s new research into rural hidden hardship

The jigsaw of rural hardship. Credit: Beth Waters

Life on the Breadline researcher Stephanie Denning is undertaking a new piece of research into rural hidden hardship. Funded by the British Academy, the project aims to understand the experiences of people in hardship in the rural North Cotswolds. Using participatory research with local people, it seeks to understand people’s hardship journeys, barriers to well-being, and coping mechanisms.

Visit the project website to find out more, and sign up to the blog here for project updates, reflections, and resources in the next 12 months.