4 Million Scrounging Families in Britain. 75% of Incapacity Claimants ARE Fit to Work. Spongers can sue to claim benefits.

These are some tabloid headlines from the last few years. In this country, we are very good at demonising those who are on benefits or who are struggling. There are many who will say that there is no excuse for being on benefits, for being homeless or hungry, for not having enough money. If the people in these situations would only pull up their bootstraps and get on with it, they would be fine.

Then there are those who will deflect all blame away from individuals and place it all on society or the government. The idea is that people are in these situations because society has not given them any opportunities to bring themselves out of any difficult situations they may find themselves in.

Both of the above viewpoints are very black and white views and we can see from our work that black and white very rarely comes into it. Most situations are grey. When something goes wrong in a person’s life, it is normally for a number of reasons.

Some welfare structures are not working as effectively as they could and we are working with other great organisations so that we can see improvements in the system that will limit the damage to people and families. Even with this work and similar work of other great organisations, it can be very frustrating trying to work with the system to support people.

We also work with a lot of people that have deep struggles with addiction, serious mental health problems, or social issues. It can be incredibly hard to work with such people as there are times when they will not help themselves. It would be easy to say of these people that they are struggling because they do not try hard enough and they do not deserve our support.

We believe in the tenacity of God’s love

Do you know what? It does not matter. Whether a person or family is in a difficult situation because the system has failed them, because they have made bad choices, or for a combination of these factors, does not matter.

Our work is informed by the relentless belief in the value of each life. We believe in the tenacity of God’s love and we strive to stay beside people regardless of how many mistakes they have made or how many times they have been forgotten by the system.

Even more than that, we believe that God loves whole people, not just parts of people. So, we invest in whole person solutions. For example, all CF supported night shelters are encouraged to offer investment in whole people, such as support that gets them access to housing and employment. That might mean support applying for jobs or housing or it might be work to tackle addiction or improve health. This is true of people we meet across our work, whether they be at a shelter, a food bank, summer holiday club, Place of Welcome or elsewhere.

The reasons people in our country struggle cannot be boiled down to simple explanations but that does not mean we should shout at each other across the aisle about the issues and, in the process, forget about real people. Regardless of how hard it may be to work with the system or with people who make troublesome decisions, we should not seek to blame circumstances but to reach out to people. People and families who are struggling deserve as many opportunities as there are to give to have whole lives. That is God’s burning desire for each of us. It should be ours too.