Acts 435 Giving to anyone who has need

As the country marks two years since the first coronavirus lockdown, when so many had to retreat from community and stay at home, national online giving charity Acts 435 facilitated specific support for a staggering 14,000 people. Such support, totalling £1.6 million, took the form of white goods, help with bills, technology so that children could be home-schooled, and hundreds of other items that people in UK poverty were going without.

Acts 435 was launched in 2010 by former Archbishop of York, Right Rev. Dr John Sentamu, and has helped over 35,000 people since it began. The charity reports that of the number of people helped through their work, 40% were supported throughout the pandemic, highlighting the increase in need. Crucially, donations through their website also increased in line with the accelerating need, as individuals chose to give generously to requests for help.

“Acts 435 connects people who want to give with people in need” states Executive Director, Jenny Herrera. “That is our story behind the huge challenges of the pandemic. Just as people found themselves in need, others rose up to support them. The needs almost doubled overnight, but so did the donations to meet those needs.”

Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s report on the state of the nation, published in January, reported that around 3.8 million households are in an estimated £5.2bn of arrears with household bills, with just over a third of people in poverty having liquid savings of less than £250; they have no buffer to cope with a crisis or an unexpected cost.

One single lady in poor health, accessing her local food bank, admitted her flat was freezing and that she had no curtains and there was cold air coming from the windows and doors. Acts 435 donors bought her three pairs of lined curtains and draft excluders so she could spend less on heating her home, enabling her to afford to feed herself again. On receiving these items she said that she now did not have to go to bed early because she was freezing cold.

Sarah Fowler, the local Acts 435 advocate who stepped in to help her said: “We are meeting people who are in deep poverty and are having to make really difficult choices just to survive. Acts 435 has helped an incredible number of people in our area, making life easier and bringing hope. We are seeing more and more people struggling to afford to eat or heat their homes so this kindness is incredible and so gratefully received.”

She echoes the sentiments of so many frontline church and charity workers who through food banks, debt counselling services and other connections have served people in need over the past two years.

With the charity braced for a further increase in need, as the living costs squeeze is felt, those in more fortunate circumstances will once again be needed to provide direct support.