Luton reverend forced to get financial help from church charity as bills soar

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A reverend living in Luton has spoken about his experience of asking a charity for help as the cost of living crisis’ grip tightens.

For the first time in Church history, clergy have submitted a formal pay claim to the Church of England – as nearly one in five are applying to a charity for financial help. Among the clergy members needing help was Luton-based Reverend Canon Joseph Adewale.

Rev Canon Joseph moved from Nigeria to the UK to study with his wife and four children. After completing his studies, he joined St Mary’s Church. He said: “At St Mary’s, I sometimes lead the communion service or preach, and I belong to lots of the church committees.”

Reverend Canon Joseph and his wifeReverend Canon Joseph and his wife
Reverend Canon Joseph and his wife

He turned to Clergy Support Trust for support after falling into debt as his utility bills soared. Rev Canon Joseph had been living in a one-bedroom flat with his family when his energy supplier increased the bill by over £200 a month, landing him in debt.

They moved to a two-bed flat but were left paying off the debt from the previous flat as well as the current rent. He explained: “It put such a huge strain on me. When the children would say they were cold, I’d tell them to put on a sweatshirt or jacket.

“The worst part were the emails and letters from the supplier, threatening me, giving me final notice and saying they’d take me to court. Every time I got one, it affected my spiritual and mental health.”

His vicar advised he spoke to Clergy Support Trust. After applying for an emergency grant, he paid off his energy debt. Rev Canon Joseph added: “It gave me a lot of relief and it boosted my mental health because the strain had been seriously affecting me.

“Now if the children are cold, we’re able to put the heating on for a bit without worrying.”

His children also received money to get two laptops to help them study online. He said: “Without Clergy Support Trust, I would’ve certainly added to my debt. I would’ve been forced to go and borrow more money from the bank and borrow from friends.” The charity supported almost one in five of all Church of England ministers last year.