Stakeholder Update: An Autumn and Winter’s Tale full of Love and Hope


This is the first Stakeholder Communication in a while, not because there has been nothing happening, but because much has been going on “behind the scenes”.

The suite of briefing papers reflecting the rich content of the Call for Evidence are all now available on the Commission website – we suggest you start with Briefing Paper No 15 which effectively provides a summary of the content of the other fourteen papers, which you can then delve into depending on your particular area of interest. 

Meetings in the North – York & Bradford

At our meeting in York before the Summer break, we used the Briefing Papers and the Call for Evidence to spend time beginning to articulate our vision for a society in which families and households are supported to flourish, and to develop the themes which will form the basis of our report, to be published after Easter 2023.  Whilst in York, Commission Members held further meetings with IDAS, which works to provide refuge and support for people subject to domestic violence and abuse and heard moving but also hopeful stories from some of their clients.  We will be publishing a Practice Paper on their work early next year.

Glass sculpture inside a cathedral

We were also able to see the Living in Love and Faith (LLF) glass sculpture, “Faith & Fracture” (pictured), which had been installed in the transept of York Minster to coincide with the July General Synod, and which invited people to reflect on the diversity of the people who make up the Church of England and who have taken part together with others using the LLF resources to learn, to listen to one another, and to God.

Group of people

It was very easy to understand why Bradford won the competition to be the UK’s City of Culture 2025 when the Commission met over two incredibly rich days in this relatively young city at the end of September. We had a range of meetings with people doing astonishing work in the community.   On the first day, Church of England youth advisers spoke about the complexities of working in a multi-cultural city; representatives from “Born in Bradford” presented on the longitudinal work they are doing on what it means to grow up in such a diverse city.  In the evening we broke bread with Jenny Kimber and Elaine Swinhoe from the regional Mothers’ Union who talked about the challenges they face with the increasing number of working mothers not having time or space to become involved, but that support and guidance is in increasing demand.  Andy Milne of Missional Youth Church Network described the work that he and his team do with young people, both in schools and in the places where they live and spend their time.

Group of people sitting

On the following day our host, the Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Revd Dr Toby Howarth, brought together an active Bradford Inter-Faith group consisting of Revd Jenny Ramsden, Will Sutcliffe, Dr Kuldip Bharj, and Sofia Buncy (pictured left to right).  All spoke very movingly of the work that they do across the city and region, both together and within their own faith communities, in the endeavour to ensure that everyone thrives, can meet the challenges of such a multi-cultural society and are not left behind.  The Commission continues to be full of admiration for the hard work and effort over many years to bring together the communities. There is much to be learned from how Bradford has gone about tackling many difficult issues of race, culture and belonging, and will be returning to the Inter-Faith group for further evidence to use in the final report.  

Meeting in the South – London

The last meeting of the Commission before Advent was held in London.  This was very much a brainstorming session, looking ahead to the final report and discussing its shape, content with further discussion on themes and what the report will ultimately be called. 

Man in wheelchair looking at man with laptop
Person smiling at two women sitting

Other meetings

There have been a range of meetings outside the main Commission meetings, with the Children’s Commissioner; Lord Bellamy; Professor Michael Marmot; Dr Tony Sewel; Baroness Falkner; Chris Willis; Baroness Young of Hornsby; Carol Homden, The Rt Hon & Rt Revd Bishop Sarah Mullally and Dr Eeva John.

Looking ahead

The winter nights will see Commission Members pulling together their thoughts and the writing of the chapters of the report.  But we continue to welcome your further thoughts about how families and households can be supported to flourish, so please get in touch via the Secretariat email:  [email protected]