Thursday 30th June
Our youngest can barely contain himself that the summer holidays are very nearly upon us. As a typical nine year old boy, he cannot wait for the end of school and the weeks that lie ahead playing with his pals, staying up late and no doubt spending too much time on screens.
Like most parents, the summer holidays fill me with an equal mix of joy and trepidation. A break from packed lunches, uniforms and a chance to get outside together. These are all welcomed. But the juggle of work, do I have enough leave and trying to fill their time with vaguely constructive activities is a lot!
For so many families the summer comes with added worries about money and with inflation reaching a 40 year high, these school holidays are going to bring anxiety and overwhelm, as lots of parents ask - do we have enough? Enough food for everyone, enough petrol in the car, enough money to top the electricity up? Enough strength to cope with this all. The reality of ever rising prices is really starting to take its toll. In my role at Christians Against Poverty, I am sadly hearing accounts of families in desperate circumstances. Impossible decisions as the reality of not having enough income to cover the most basic of items hits home.
The principle of everyone having enough is a key theme that runs throughout the Bible. From the old testament principles of Jubilee - redistributing wealth and clearing debts to gleaning - where farmers left the edges of their fields unharvested for those who didn’t have enough.
‘I command you to be open handed…. there need be no poor people among you’ God tells his people in the Book of Deuteronomy. A declaration of what could be, a society not just where people have enough, but everyone has the opportunity to flourish. The Kingdom of God does not include poverty.
As I’ve reflected on these words. I’m challenged by what they mean for me and for all of us. What are the ways we can be opened handed in our communities this summer - donating to our food bank, looking out for neighbours who need help. And what are the ways we could use our voices to contribute so that we too could see a society where there are no poor people among us. Petitions, writing to elected representatives, highlighting the issues that need structural change. We need both mercy and justice.
In a just and compassionate Scotland, I am sure that’s something we long for not just for these summer holidays, but for all our futures. Moving beyond enough and into flourishing.
Emma Jackson is Scotland Director for Christian’s Against Poverty (CAP) a UK wide debt help and anti-poverty charity. Emma has worked for CAP for over 7 years leading teams, projects and service and policy development. Previously she worked in senior leadership in disability and Higher Education and also worked for the Equality Commission in Northern Ireland. Emma is deeply passionate about tackling the injustices of poverty and ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to thrive. Emma speaks widely on the subject of debt, money management and how we bring about change to see local communities flourish. Emma’s a contributor for BBC Radio Scotland’s Thought for the Day and a board member for Serve Scotland. Emma is married to Niall; they have three children and all live in the rural Scottish Borders, enjoying outdoor life.