Faith-based activism in austerity Britain - conference resources

In September 2020 over 70 people took part in the online Life on the Breadline mid-project conference.

How has austerity impacted people in the UK? 

What are the implications of this for theology and faith-based social action?

Our half-day conference grappled with these questions with a particular focus on Christian responses to UK poverty and austerity.

Members of the Life on the Breadline team, Chris Shannahan and Stephanie Denning, spoke about the unequal impact of austerity and challenges for theology.

Click on the play buttons below to listen to Stephanie and Chris’ presentations, and on the slides to read these.

Click play to hear Stephanie Denning on the unequal impact of austerity
Click play to hear Chris Shannahan on the challenges of austerity for theology

Our first guest keynote speaker was Dr Sarah Marie Hall, a human geographer from the University of Manchester.  

Sarah gave a guest keynote on ‘Legacies of austerity: rethinking social infrastructures, life-courses and families of the future’.

You can hear Sarah’s presentation and view her slides on the right hand side of this page.

Click play to hear Sarah Marie Hall on the legacies of austerity

Our second guest keynote speaker was Professor Rachel Muers, a theologian from the University of Leeds.  Rachel gave a guest keynote on ‘Discerning the body: Christian social action, theology and class in austerity Britain’.

You can hear Rachel’s presentation and view her slides on the right hand side of this page.

Click play to hear Rachel Muers on austerity, theology and class

Life on the Breadline’s Peter Scott brought the presentations together by reflecting on a political theology response to the challenges of austerity.

Click play to hear Peter Scott on political theology responses to the challenges of austerity

After a whole group discussion the conference concluded with a call to action: each the presenters shared what they would like participants to take away from the morning.

  • Sarah Marie Hall: encouraged us to look at the work of the Women’s Budget Group, particularly their recent report on the impact of Covid-19.
  • Rachel Muers: encouraged us to look at the work of Poverty Truth Commissions – for example in Leeds – and reminded activists to take of themselves in this ongoing period of crises.
  • Peter Scott: reflected on the notable consideration of hope that was brought up in the Q&As.
  • Stephanie Denning: asked researchers to question whether research challenges or feeds into stigma and stereotypes of poverty.
  • Chris Shannahan: encouraged us to support campaigns for a living wage in the UK.

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