Homelessness and poverty event: Sunday 26 January

PRESS RELEASE FROM: Willie Morrison on behalf of Old High St Stephen’s Church

22 Jan 2014

For further information please contact the Rev Peter Nimmo on 01463 250802

Sunday kirk supper and drama to highlight local poverty

A city centre congregation is to highlight the plight of homeless in Inverness and the Highlands in a novel way, with a supper and a dramatised reading of the New Testament parable of the Prodigal Son.

This move, by Old High St Stephen’s congregation, in conjunction with Inverness Church of Scotland Presbytery, is its contribution to Poverty and Homelessness Action Week, a major national publicity drive to help the poorest in our society, which starts on Saturday.

The week features many memorable events at both local and national levels – from inspiring events featuring young people taking action for a better world, to hearings where people bravely share their experiences of poverty and homelessness.

The Inverness event, which takes place at Old High St Stephen’s Church Halls, Academy Street, on Sunday evening from 6pm, also features talks by and conversations with Dr Paul Monaghan and Alex Gilchrist of Highland Homeless Trust, who will emphasise the constant and increasing cries locally for help in the current financial climate.

Old High St Stephen’s minister the Rev Peter Nimmo said:

It is a chance for us to eat and meet, to worship and to learn first-hand of the issues, and for us, as followers of Jesus, to reflect on how we can use our gifts in response to this need. This invitation to join us and hear of these problems is being extended to folk of all faiths or none. All who are interested are welcome.

Congregation member and leading organiser Iain Todd, who is also a Church of Scotland reader – a trained and experienced lay preacher – remarked:

The aim of the evening is for all faiths or none to come together to listen, and perhaps learn, from two of the many professionals at work in our city with folk who are really struggling with issues of homelessness, poverty and the changes to the benefits system and who often, in their vulnerability and of necessity, find themselves drawn down the pay day loan route with its legal, but punitive interest rates.
Pay day loans are accepted by all as being awful things – and since the UK Government did away with crisis loans, and the new benefit system is paid a month in arrears, desperate folk who have no money are being sucked into the Wonga and Cash Converters of this world who charge horrendous rates.
I have a wee friend who recently told me she had borrowed £200, which will cost her £300 to repay.”

Mr Todd also spoke of an acquaintance who had told him he didn’t believe there was any real poverty in Inverness , and who insisted: “Define poverty for me. I bet they all have big plasma televisions.”

He said credit unions were not the answer for folk in dire poverty, as they were more akin to saving schemes, and would not respond to pleas for immediate cash.

And he concluded: “All are welcome on Sunday evening to listen, learn and maybe respond.”

Footnote: Inverness Food Bank, set up in 2005 at the Free Church Hall in Madras Street , and supported by many local churches and other organisations, now distributes emergency supplies to thousands of needy Highland families each year, and has the unenviable reputation of being one of the busiest of its kind in Britain .

ENDS