REPRESENTATIVES from local faith groups were challenged to consider the realities of poverty in the local area at a summit at Bournemouth University.

The ‘Local Poverty: Realities and Response’ event, which was organised in conjunction with Faith Links and Faithworks Wessex, attracted more than 150 people.

The summit aimed to address the issues caused by living in poverty and featured keynote speeches from Tom Papworth, associate director for economic policy from CentreForum, and Richard Bristow, chief executive officer of Poole’s Citizens’ Advice Bureau.

Their presentations gave both national and local perspectives on the realities of poverty – one in five people in the UK are classed as living in poverty, whilst on a local level close to 10,000 children in Bournemouth and Poole are living in deprivation.

Delegates were also able to attend a choice of workshops, looking at topics including food banks, fuel costs, homelessness and the impact poverty can have on health and wellbeing.

These resulted in a number of commitments being made, including a pledge to teach independent living and financial skills, provide community meals and teach vital cooking skills.

The Reverend Clare Downing, the Moderator of the Wessex Synod of the United Reformed Church, chaired the summit.

She said: “It was fantastic to see so many different organisations coming together to address the serious issues that are faced daily by many people living in our local area.

“Delegates were hugely engaged in the workshops on offer and the resulting commitments show a real desire to move forward and help in any way we can.”