Sun, sea and sundaes hid the poverty in our coastal towns on recent Bank Holiday trips to the seaside. Adding the latest government data to the Church Urban Fund’s poverty lookup tool shows that, outside major urban areas, the hotspots of deprivation in England are towns around the coast. The lookup tool is encouraging projects to tackle poverty in coastal towns and elsewhere.

The Church Urban Fund (CUF) poverty lookup tool is an online database that provides Church of England parishes, charities and anyone concerned about levels of poverty with a range of deprivation indicators for their area. Poverty is complex, so the database highlights not just where there is deprivation but how it is manifested.  An overview of the findings is available on our website.

it is amazing to see how churches are already respondingChurch Urban Fund Executive Chair, Paul Hackwood commented on these findings, “As a visitor it is easy to think that people living by the coast have a great life, but the reality can be very different. Our lookup tool is helping to highlight this and it is amazing to see how churches are already responding to meet the needs of those living in deprivation.” 

One area that is responding through this data is Blackpool. 

Together Lancashire set up Blackpool Food partnership in 2013 to try to bring together the work of the Food Banks in Blackpool. They were meeting a desperate need, but were they doing as well as they could? Since then, the partnership has grown from strength to strength. In the last 12 months, it has:

  • distributed surplus food worth £77k to 40 organisations, much donated by local supermarkets from their own stock
  • supported more than 1,000 people with food in hostels, community kitchens and community projects in Blackpool
  • delivered food hygiene training to 16 people and 17 people qualified as "Cook and Eat" trainers
  • trained 11 volunteers in "Supporting Service Users Safely"
  • provided an electronic pack for budgeting support provided to volunteers.

Ed Saville, Director of Together Lancashire, said: “We knew there were a lot of people in Blackpool ready to support those who needed help. The poverty look-up tool helped us identify the communities to reach in to. The tool informed where we put down our roots and has allowed us to reach the most marginalised across Blackpool and to attract funding to support the work."

2015 was a watershed for the churches in Blackpool. They came together to showcase social action projects in the community. There are 60 different projects in place, working together to serve the whole community.

The poverty lookup tool is a fantastic resource for churches and communities across the country. 

“Going around the diocese,” said the Bishop of Jarrow, Mark Bryant, “the look-up tool has been immensely helpful. I can draw the attention of congregations to some of the issues people face in the communities they are called to serve, particularly where members of the congregation may live outside the parish or where the make-up of the parish has changed significantly. We are increasingly using this tool in the diocese to help members of our congregations stand a little bit more in the shoes of those in the wider community.”