About the Project

In 2018 an estimated 14.2 million people were living in poverty in the UK, including more than 25% of children

What is the aim of the project?

To understand how austerity has affected Christian engagement with poverty in the UK and the theological motivations which underpin it.

Why is the project important?

This is the first evidence-led academic theological analysis of the impact that austerity has had on the Christian engagement with urban poverty.

Understanding how austerity has affected Christian engagement with UK poverty will generate significant impact within the academy, amongst faith groups, faith-based NGOs, and policymakers.  It will do this by facilitating the development of:

1.    Better informed government policy

2.    More effective faith-based activism

3.    Reductions in urban social exclusion and inequality

What is the project methodology?

– A series of original ethnographic case studies in Birmingham, London and Manchester that each focus on different aspects of poverty

– A wide-ranging online survey of regional church leaders across UK Christian traditions

– Interviews with national church leaders from a range of Christian traditions

Our ethnographic case studies:

The research is engaging with six case studies which each focus on a different aspect of poverty or response to poverty.  Each case study has involved spending time with the project/community group, carrying out one-to-one interviews, and photo elicitation in focus groups.  The case studies include:

Hodge Hill Church and the Open Door Community Foundation – Firs and Bromford estate, Birmingham

Credit: Clare

During 2020, in person before the pandemic and online during the Covid-19 pandemic we have spent time on the Firs and Bromford estate with Hodge Hill Church and the Open Door Community Foundation learning about the approach of asset-based community development.

Levenshulme Inspire Community Hub – Levenshulme, Manchester

Credit: Stephanie Denning

At the start of 2020 we began spending time at Levenshulme Inspire with the wide variety of projects that take place there to work with the local community – from a community cafe and meals to a pantry, and a toddler group.

B30 Foodbank – Cotteridge, Birmingham

Credit: Stephanie Denning

In 2019 we spent several months at B30 Foodbank with both volunteers and clients at the foodbank.  B30 Foodbank is a Trussell Trust foodbank which provides food parcels with three days worth of food to local people.

Church Action on Poverty – Salford, Greater Manchester


Church Action Poverty is a national ecumenical Christian social justice charity, committed to tackling poverty in the UK.  The charity works in partnership with churches and with people in poverty themselves to find solutions to poverty locally, nationally and globally.  As well as being involved as a case study, Church Action on Poverty is an official Life on the Breadline project partner.