Bradford churches and organisations working with some of the poorest individuals and groups in the city have met with civic leaders and council representatives to discuss how the city and voluntary groups can work more closely together in the face of new cuts to spending and welfare.
(Pictured left - In discussion , the Lord Mayor of Bradford, Cllr Joanne Dodds, consort Mr Robert Dodds, and Bishop Toby Howarth, Bishop of Bradford.)
Both the Lord Mayor of Bradford and the Bishop of Bradford (pictured right) addressed the ‘Hope on the Edge’ conference held in Bradford City Hall this week (Wednesday 14 October) which was organised by Wellsprings Together Bradford, a project begun by the Church of England and the Church Urban Fund .
Chief Executive of Bradford Council , Kerston England, was also at the event where delegates heard that provision for the elderly and disadvantaged young people will be among the hardest hit. Bradford Council has told church leaders that it faces ‘rapidly shrinking budgets, rising costs and increased demand’ and invited them to hold further talks. The Government’s Welfare Reforms and are adding extra pressure to voluntary services and the conference heard about increased demand on food banks. Meanwhile changing demographics with refugees and asylum seekers is increasing pressure on services.
(Pictured (left) the Revd Canon Denise Poole, a trustee of Wellsprings Together, Chief Executive of Bradford Council, Kersten England, the Bishop of Bradford, and Liz Firth of Wellsprings Together)
Bishop Toby Howarth a keynote conference speaker, told delegates that the church needed to ‘up its game’. He told the conference, “The relationship between the church and the state is shifting and that has been formally, as it were, put on the table by Dave Green, Leader of the Council, coming to the churches and saying ‘we need your help’. The challenge to the churches is can we work together better so that we see what we are doing and where the gaps are and can we do this in a different more collaborative way so that we work more effectively? This calls on the churches to up our game.”
A further conference is to be held in Bradford’s Thornbury Centre on November 19th to discuss the introduction of Universal Credit and how church and faith organisations can respond.