Protest and Social Action
How do we address the big issues?
There were many questions and suggestions on how we as church communities, families or individuals can respond to the various crises we currently face. Protest marches in Birmingham and further afield are important and there’s far more we can do too.
Below are some of the biggest issues facing us right now. Under each issue we’ve provided links to key projects, campaigns and organizations, practical resources and inspiration for meaningful action.
Real Change or More of the Same?
Krassie Tzvetkova, Northfield Methodist Church member, has been asking various people in the Birmingham Circuit whether we want real social change or more of the same?
“Don't assume that the government knows how bad things are for many people. We have a government of the rich who act for the rich. People need to be able to live without relying on donations and charity. The only way through this is adequate social security and proper wages.
We churches need to help in practical ways locally, like through Warm Spaces, soup lunches etc, and we need to raise our game in being politically engaged.
It is best to address your local MP or councillor personally, rather than using a template letter. Better still, go to visit their surgery if indeed they host them. Individual contact provides politicians with the information directly from their constituents. Tailor your letter and seek a meeting to discuss the things you’re most passionate about.
I've questioned Rachel of Christians Against Poverty about how I convince non-Christians in my community that Christians care when the local vicarage has been empty for 18 months whilst a new vicar is sorted. We, as churches, have to ask ourselves whether we keep too much of our resources for ourselves.”
In summer 2022 Krassie was involved in various ZOOM meetings in which she and others shared their anger, encouraged one another and exchanged ideas and links to meaningful protest and social action. You'll find some of these links below.
Issue: Cost of Living Crisis
“Fair pay, affordable bills, enough to eat and a decent place to live. These aren’t luxuries – they are your rights!”
Enough is Enough, supported by several MPs, is a campaign to fight the cost of living crisis.
It was founded by trade unions and community organisations determined to push back against the misery forced on millions by rising bills, low wages, food poverty, shoddy housing – and a society run only for a wealthy elite.
Stop Loan Sharks investigates and prosecutes illegal money lenders and provides support for borrowers in the UK.
They provide free online training on how to spot a loan shark.
The Joint Public Issues Team (JPIT) is a partnership between the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church, and the United Reformed Church.
The purpose of JPIT is to help the Churches to work together for peace and justice through listening, learning, praying, speaking and acting on public policy issues.
JPIT asks 'Is Cost of Living Support Enough?' On 21 September 2022, over 50 faith, charity and organisational leaders signed an open letter to the Prime Minister, calling for direct support for the poorest households in response to rising living costs.
Debt and poverty drain hope from people’s lives. Christians Against Poverty (CAP) want to put an end to UK poverty in partnership with local churches. They provide important, life-changing debt advice and support. Find out more about their Cost of Living Crisis Support HERE.
We churches need to help in practical ways locally, like through Warm Spaces, soup lunches etc, and we need to raise our game in campaigning politically.
Read more here at Warm Welcome
Whilst many people will be watching political chatter fill our news, others are watching their bank balances empty at an increasing rate. Urgent action this summer must be taken by the Chancellor to protect those most vulnerable to the increasing cost of living. Christians Against Poverty encourage you write to your MP and to get involved HERE
‘Nothing about us, without us, is for us,’ is the starting point for Poverty Truth Commissions. It identifies that lasting social change only happens when those who experience the struggle participate in generating that change. Find out more about the Poverty Truth Network HERE
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation is an independent social change organisation working to solve UK poverty.
UK Poverty 2023 sets out recent trends in poverty across the UK, how levels of poverty differ between groups of people and regions, and the impact it has on people’s lives. These findings can help us to understand the current situation and future prospects for poverty in the UK.
Action for Children currently running a campaign to write to MPs regarding child poverty
Friends of the Earth seeks to understand the impact of the cost of living crisis and looking at the reasons why are our bills so high and what's the solution for warmer homes and lower emissions?
Issue: Anti Slavery and Anti Trafficking
Founded in 2011 originally as a project of the Birmingham Methodist District, Adavu is a charity providing long-term support to adult survivors of modern slavery making the transition into a life in the local community.
Rev Neil Johnson and Rev Ian Howarth are trustees. Find out how to get more involved HERE.
Hope for Justice is fighting human trafficking and helping victims and survivors all around the world. This work is only possible because of a growing global movement of ordinary people who support this life-changing work in many different ways. Be part of it.
Issue: Economic Reform
Our current economic model is failing both people and planet. The warning lights are flashing red as environmental damage increases, debt and inequality levels rise, and communities and wellbeing are eroded.
Where can we learn the economics to talk back to the politicians in their own language and offer alternative solutions?
On his YouTube channel Gary’s Economics Gary Stevenson breaks down confusing economic jargon into understandable concepts and considers how we can respond. Do subscribe to Gary's channel. The more people talking openly about the skewed economic system the better.
Joy in Enough (JiE) is a Green Christian project which is a challenge to Christians in Britain, and an invitation to all people of good will, to join in building a just economy within the ecological limits of the Earth.
Issue: Climate Emergency
Extinction Rebellion is a do-it-together international movement that uses non-violent civil disobedience in an attempt to halt mass extinction and minimise the risk of social collapse. You can find out more about their goals and campaigns locally and internationally here. The Christian arm of the Extinction Rebellion movement is called Christian Climate Action.
Christian Climate Action is a community of Christians supporting each other to take meaningful action in the face of imminent and catastrophic anthropogenic climate breakdown. Guided by the Holy Spirit and following the example of social justice movements of the past, they carry out acts of public witness, nonviolent protest and civil disobedience to urge those in power to make the changes needed.
What does it mean to be human within a global climate emergency? The epic 2021 podcast Everybody Now explored this question with the help of scientists, activists, farmers, poets, and theologians. Essentially Action Stations is a Birmingham Methodist podcast responding to the Everybody Now podcast. In each episode we reflect on what the climate crisis means for ordinary folk and how willing we are to take action right now. In the description of each episode there are links to useful resources and projects such as EcoChurch.
EcoChurch is a scheme for churches in England and Wales who want to demonstrate that the gospel is good news for God’s earth. Their vision is for churches of all denominations to care for creation as an integral part of loving their neighbours and following God faithfully.
Provocative Ideas for Protest and Activism
Nadya Tolokonnikova is a founding member of Pussy Riot, a Russian activist punk group. In this interview on iPlayer Nadya discusses with Simon Schama how she sees herself and her fellow activists as part of a long tradition of radical, counterculture rebels in Russia and her belief that art can save people’s lives. At a time when ‘we are facing depression on a global scale’, Nadya wants to show ‘that there is always hope. My name is Hope. My name literally means hope in Russian’.
Nadya also wrote a How To motivational book about creative protest called Read and Riot.
From successful campaigns against Royal Parks and multinationals, from annoying estate agents, to raising cinema workers’ wages, Thomas stopped at nothing. The Acts were sometimes bold, sometimes surreal. Many brought about change and others were done for the sheer hell of it. Whether at the gates of the Saudi Arabian embassy or the checkout at Tesco – people reacted with laughter, shock, outrage and occasionally anger. Sometimes all of the above.
"We need to make our points in ways which are very visible.
If your area is represented by a Tory MP what are you and your church doing to engage with them? Northfield's is a Tory - Gary Sambrook - we need to bombard him with information and demands. Invite your MP to come and listen to real people's stories and encourage them to lobby the government for change.
‘The Social Distance Between Us’ by Darren McGarvey is a great book about the proximity gap of politicians, policy makers and journalists and the poor. These stories can help us change the narrative of people on low income therefore, change how our communities view the social security system and demand better for everyone.
Public pressure through Marcus Rashford over free school meals meant the Government were embarrassed into a change of direction. How do we ensure that they know that the current situation is unacceptable and pressurise that change that is needed?
I keep asking the question 'What would Jesus have me do?' I will sometimes be told 'Forget the bible study tonight and ring/visit someone who's probably been laid on your heart.’
Hopefully, everyone's feeling more informed in making decisions on how to get involved.
With many best wishes for a more positive future!"