Charity challenge to live on minimum wage for six weeks of Lent

Former Methodist Conference President Rev Inderjit Bhogal isamong church leaders who are supporting a national Lent campaign byagreeing to live on the minimum wage for six weeks up toEaster.

Church Action on Poverty, the ecumenical anti-poverty pressuregroup is campaigning to highlight the inadequacy of the minimumwage with the campaign. Niall Cooper, National Coordinator ofChurch Action on Poverty, who is taking up the "lent challenge"along with his wife and three children, said: "Although the minimumwage is a step forward, the rate it has been set at is very low andonly allows a meagre existence. We want to see a "living wage" thatwill ensure life in all its fullness."

Participants, other than Mr Bhogal, include the Anglican Bishopof Wolverhampton, Rt Rev Michael Bourke. During the Lent Challenge,participants will keep an income diary of life on a low income. OnSunday 10 February (Unemployment Sunday), Church Action on Povertyis launching a Living Wage campaign aimed atpersuading churches to pay all their employees a Living Wage andcampaign for an increase in the level of the national minimumwage.

Millions of workers are affected by the issue of low pay. ChurchAction on Poverty is calling for an increase in the NationalMinimum Wage from £4.10 to £5.80 per hour and the abolition of thelower rate for 18-21 years olds. A rate of £6.30 should apply toworkers in London.

Oliver Fernandes, an officer for Church Action on Poverty, livedon the minimum wage for six weeks as research for the campaign. Hesaid: "Life on the minimum wage is extremely difficult and goinginto debt is very much a reality. We want to raise the issue of lowpay and the restrictions it causes to a wider audience and thusstart a nationwide campaign for a living wage."

More information and a resource pack is available fromChurch Action onPoverty