We all have a role to play in bringing about social justice. Read Grant, our chief exec's, take on it in his latest blog.
Whenever I talk about the work that we do at Glasgow City Mission I am usually met with a tremendous, sometimes overwhelming desire to help. It’s amazing!
People want specifics about precisely how they can help and good on them. “What’s the most effective way I can help?” I’m asked, time and time again.
As an organisation who works with vulnerable people day in day out, it's our responsibility to communicate to our supporters what really works, what makes a difference. Herein lies the dilemma. Often our charitable response to immediate need blinds our ability to see the bigger issue of social justice.
Shelters are not the same as homes, food parcels are not the same as full kitchen cupboards and ‘hand me down’ clothes are not the same as choosing your own wardrobe.
Permanent social justice
My personal journey has helped me see that the more we work with immediate needs the more I want to fight for permanent social justice solutions in our society. I’m aware that sometime because we deal with immediate needs really well we can inadvertently mask the scale of the injustice of poverty and homelessness in our city.
Often our charitable response to immediate need blinds our ability to see the bigger issue of social justice.
The theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, famous for his Serenity Prayer, was a real advocate for exactly this response to social injustice. He observed that charities and those with the power and wealth to help were more inclined to patch up and offer ‘sticking plaster’ solutions than work for fundamental changes around the social injustices from which people suffered.
I wrestle with this, all the time, and find some contentment in never being content! The challenge I feel is in two areas:
- helping where there is immediate need, which is where charities excel, and;
- confronting social injustice, poverty and homelessness in the political arena.
Whilst remaining politically neutral as an organisation we must all recognise that our voting behaviour is an indicator to our political leaders of what we care about and the society we want to live.
In supporting the work of Glasgow City Mission please continue to give, fundraise, take part in our events, volunteer and pray. In fighting for social justice, please continue to write to your MP and MSP, and vote at the ballot box. You might like to consider the Crisis Manifesto (.pdf) and the Shelter Manifesto to guide your thinking.