This year at 3generate (Methodist Children and Youth Assembly) we asked young people to take part in some activities which explored how the benefits system in the UK works.
After taking part in our activities many of the young people saw a lack of fairness in the system and responded by writing Christmas cards to David Gauke (Secretary of State for Work and Pensions) to express their feelings.
We collected these cards and sent them to David Gauke with the following cover letter:
Dear David Gauke MP,
I hope this letter finds you well and that you are enjoying the festive season.
Enclosed in this letter are a number of Christmas cards which have been written by young people who attended 3generate (the Methodist Children and Youth Assembly). 3generate is an event that the Methodist Church organises for young people aged 8-23; it is a weekend of conversation, debate, indoor and outdoor activities, games, music, sport, crafts and challenges. An opportunity to talk about the issues that affect and really matter to young people, the world and the Church – to listen others and to God. Time and space to worship in a range of creative and imaginative ways and gives young people the chance to have a say about the future of their church and their world.
This year 1300 young people descended on Southport to take part in 3generate.
Some of the young people chose to take part in a workshop about UK poverty where we shared different stories from our churches and communities and had some more fun activities to encourage people to thinkabout the benefit system and those who need it. The young people were particularly moved by a story from our friends in the Church of Scotland. They were shown a video from one of the Poverty Truth Commissions, where one of the members spoke about the time he was sanctioned. All he had done was not filled in his JSA Work Plan book. Being sanctioned broke this person, who was already suffering from mental health We also heard that churches are supporting people in similar situations all around the country.
The young people expressed concern that the current sanctions system is stripping people of their dignity and hampering peoples ability to move on with their lives.
In the past churches have come together to call for the benefit sanctions system to be reviewed and the young people we spoke to believe a full and independent review is now needed more than ever.
While this is not the experience of everyone who receives benefits, it was one that they recognised and they felt was very important.
Best wishes to you, your Department those it seeks to serve over this Christmas period,
Joint Public Issues Team