As we journey through Easter, I am reminded of the important message of hope and imagination the Easter story brings to our charity’s role in society.
In recent days, the political landscape has seen major rifts around issues of benefits cuts and rising controversy about the potential implications of the budget for disabled people.
It’s certainly not news to say that disabled people in the UK are too often at the brunt of shrinking budgets and cuts to public services. They often face increasing social exclusion, health limitations and poorer life opportunities.
Through every strand of Livability’s front line work, we see how many people are struggling and facing barriers in their lives: cuts to their benefits; loss of support and greater difficulty in participating fully in community life.
Good Friday difficulty and hardship are certainly ever present themes in our society.
But we know that the Easter story does not end on Good Friday. By Easter Sunday – the full dimension of the story emerges. The empty tomb and the risen Christ announces a restorative and hope-filled message in which brokenness and injustice don’t get to write the final chapter.
Since the days of the early church and in every era of the Christian tradition since, Easter hope, lived out in the context of community, has been an radical call to a different way of life.
At Livability, we are committed to living this out in very practical and grounded ways. Across our services, we can see the evidence of a hope-filled approach to living where our staff and services users work to create this together.
Our approach models an inclusive Christian ethos, welcoming people of all faiths and none where actions speak louder than words.
Whatever your political persuasion or fiscal ideology, there is no getting around the fact that funding for public services is shrinking. Top-down service provision is increasingly hard to deliver. A creative and whole community response is needed.
At Livability – we see that response as being in the heart of our communities. Research is finding that local, community-shaped projects, designed together with local partners, building on the local strengths and assets can achieve major health benefits, increase resilience and deliver great value for money.
Charities like ours must mobilise local people, resources and assets to take the lead and work together for lasting, positive change across our neighbourhoods.
With our service users, we must explore what will make our communities livable for all those we serve – and what we can do together to make these inclusive, flourishing and safe communities a reality.
It won’t always be straight forward, obvious or easy, but at Easter time, let us fix our imagination on what might be possible and take the small steps together to live out the hope of Easter.