Acts 435 Giving to anyone who has need

As part of our Christmas campaign, we wanted to take the opportunity to highlight some 'Poverty Stories'. So many times, poverty is equated with a certain group of people but in our experience, as we see a wide variety of requests posted on the Acts 435 website, poverty (in the sense of not having enough money to purchase basic essentials) can suddenly come upon us as a secondary result of some other problem.

As we encourage people to decorate an Acts 435 Christmas Tree to raise awareness of the plight of UK people in need and ask people to consider giving #anothergift to help people with a basic necessity this Christmas, we plan to highlight on each of the 4 Sundays of Advent and then on Christmas Day some true stories of how people find themselves struggling financially, often through no fault of their own.

Poverty Story #1

Chris graduated from University but could not find a permanent job. He found himself on zero hour, part-time, and seasonal contracts. As such he never knew what his pay would be making it very difficult to budget. He struggled on a weekly basis to eat, often having only one proper meal a day. He choose to run his car to take him to work or to eat. He lived on the breadline so that when his car broke down, he had no money to repair it. He would not put any heating on and would huddle in his duvet. When he lost a work contract he could not claim job seekers allowance because normally by the time his claim was processed, he was back in employment so at times he would live for 2 weeks with no income at all.

Chris eventually snapped and went into depression. He gave up and his car was left parked on the road and when the tax and insurance needed renewing, he let them lapse, resulting in fines. Things has gone into a downward spiral at an ever-increasing speed.

Thankfully Chris had family support and with their help he got back on track. Chris now has a good, permanent job, a new car and steady income.

Poverty Story #2

Janette is a single mum of 4 young children. The youngest child, 6 months old, was rushed to hospital with breathing difficulties in the early hours of the morning. The baby was critical for 24 hours. Naturally Janette was distraught but still had to find childcare for her 3 other children. All of this meant she forgot and missed an interview at the Benefits Agency. Her benefits were therefore sanctioned for 28 days leaving her with no money, no savings, no food, no gas and no electricity.

When you live on the breadline, the sudden absence of income can have a truly dramatic effect. Acts 435 seeks to help people in those moments of crisis.

  • The Higher Education Statistics Agency publish results each year of the number of students still not in work 6 months after graduating. Around 1 in 12 students is thought to be unemployed with many others taking up non-professional jobs not requiring a degree, with many part-time and/or on zero hours contracts.
  • The Office of National Statistics reported earlier this year a figure of 1.4 million people on zero-hours contracts - a disputed figure but an initial start in measuring this. Certainly there are between 583,000 and 2.7 million people in the UK with contracts that do not guarantee them a minimum number of working hours.
  • Matthew Oakley published an independent report for the Department of Work and Pensions revealing systematic failings in the process of benefit sanctions. The most vulnerable claimants were often left at a loss as to why their benefits were stopped and frequently they were not informed about hardship payments to which they were entitled.
First Advent Candle