04 July 2016

Redesign of Methodist grant fund to better provide for changing face of UK poverty

The Methodist Church is to respond to the changing face of poverty in the UK through a redesigning of its national grant programme supporting projects that work with people experiencing poverty, following a decision of the Methodist Conference today.

'Methodist Action on Poverty and Justice', formerly the 'Mission Alongside the Poor Programme', is a grant giving stream of the Methodist Church which has access to over a million pounds in grant funding each year to encourage and support community projects to help impoverished people in the UK.


Set up in the 1980s, the 'Mission Alongside the Poor Programme' was initiated to encourage and enable churches to become better neighbours to people in need in their communities. Despite several subsequent revisions and refinements, it was decided today that recent developments in the nature of poverty in the UK required an overall review of the programme.

As well as committing to a better integration of practical help and advocacy, the redesign identifies the growth of in-work poverty in the UK and calls for new projects to respond effectively to this reality.

"Poverty is changing and so must the Church's response," Helen Woodall, Chair of the Connexional Grants Committee, said. "It's no longer accurate to think of poverty affecting only those who are out of work. Unemployment does continue to remain a good marker of poverty in the UK; but, being in work is no longer a good marker for not experiencing poverty. If we are to respond effectively to poverty today, we must be more ready to offer a hand to those whose work is insecure, low paid or only a few hours."

A recent  report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation indicated that around 13 million people in the UK currently live in poverty, the majority of whom are in working families.

Ms Woodall added: "The Mission Alongside the Poor Programme was a fantastic model empowering and equipping churches to tackle poverty in the local community, but the programme had largely remained unchanged since the 1980s. In this rebranding and refocus, the Church has reaffirmed that the need is still all too evident, but that our language around how poverty is experienced in the UK needs to change to match the experiences of today.

"Practically, what this means for us as beneficiaries of grants is that we have had to rethink what qualifies for projects alleviating poverty in local communities." 

'Methodist Action on Poverty and Justice'  grants are available for application for any projects aimed at alleviating poverty in the UK. While all organisations are welcome to apply, a Methodist partner must be involved in the process. For more information and how to apply,  click here.



  1. A video presented to the Methodist Conference as part of the report is available to watch online  here.
  2. The Conference is the body that agrees policy for the Methodist Church. It meets annually as a group of 306 representatives, along with a number of ecumenical and World Church associate members. This year's Conference is being held at Central Hall Westminster from 30 June 7 July. For more information, visit the  Methodist website.
  3. You can watch the Conference live  here.
  4. Follow the Conference conversation on Twitter via the  #methodistconf hastag. Please note that comments and opinions on Twitter and the blog do not necessarily represent the Methodist Church's position.

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