At a time when many people are struggling to find work or to cope with the rising cost of living there is a growing concern about poverty in this country. Middlesbrough faces particular challenges; unemployment here is twice the national average and child poverty the third highest in the country.The Church, however, has a long tradition of supporting the most vulnerable in society, working in a grass-roots way alongside individuals, families and communities.
Just a day after the Government's decision to cap the cost of payday loans - in which people of faith played a crucial role - the Contextual Theology Centre has published its latest essay collection, 'God and the Moneylenders: faith and the battle against exploitative lending'.
Practical faith linked dialogues told through incredible personal stories of individuals pursuing their hopes and aspirations, sometimes in the face of tremendous challenges and conflict.
I would like to thank Paul and the Church Urban Fund for your gracious invitation. My thanks are at many levels.
Here are some handouts and presentations that were used in the workshops at the conference, to give you a flavour of what was covered in each of them. More will be added over the next week.