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On World Day of the Poor, Sunday 15th November, Caritas Westminster is launching Road to Resilience, a new programme focused on building resilient communities and helping people out of poverty. The Road to Resilience programme will help projects run by parishes and schools in the diocese to go beyond meeting emergency need and offer support to help people tackle the challenges they are facing.

Over the last few months, Caritas Westminster has seen an incredible response from parishes and schools, rallying together to feed thousands who have lost their income or been left isolated by the pandemic. However, project leaders are increasingly concerned for how people will escape being forced into long-term poverty by the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus. 
Caritas Westminster is launching the Road to Resilience to respond to this need. The programme will give projects and schools the tools to help people out of poverty and empower them to be more resilient to the shocks and challenges that cause insecurity.

Offering his support to the programme, Bishop Paul McAleenan, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, said: ‘We have seen that if someone needs food it can be provided. What about someone who needs help accessing benefits or emergency housing, or is concerned about their immigration status? The Road to Resilience shows Caritas Westminster is committed to enabling parishes and schools to find out more about the social needs in their community and to support those in need in different ways.’

The Road to Resilience programme will assist parish and school projects in three key ways. Firstly, by developing the valuable network that emerged during lockdown, bringing together parish and school projects to share ideas, and information. Volunteers have found it reassuring for each to know they are not alone in reaching out to those in need. Caritas Westminster is also encouraging project managers and volunteers to take time to reflect on their faith and discern how their response could develop over the challenging months to follow.

Secondly, the programme will offer expert training and resources to equip project staff and volunteers with knowledge in key areas such as benefits and finances, housing, immigration, digital inclusion and more. View details of upcoming training events here.

Thirdly, the Road to Resilience programme will offer practical resources to support projects to operate safely and efficiently, assess the needs of those they are working with and come up with practical and sustainable ways to help people out of poverty.

Meriel Woodward, Assistant Director of Caritas Westminster said: ‘This project builds on the amazing social action already being delivered by parishes and schools across the diocese as part of their missionary outreach. It works alongside direct relief projects, by bolting on longer-term interventions, and building on individuals’ strengths, to support people out of poverty for good.

‘As we mark this year’s World Day of the Poor, Pope Francis invites us to consider the theme “Stretch forth your hand to the poor” (Sir 7:32). This invites us not just to offer hand-outs to those struggling, but also a hand up out of poverty. The Road to Resilience will equip projects with the tools and support needed to do this.’

Caritas Westminster invites anyone interested in developing the resilience of their local community to join them on the road to resilience. You can find out more about the programme and sign up to the network here.

Image: Mazur/ Image shows a volunteer at Palmers Green food bank.