Parishes’ huge wealth divide exposed by list

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New figures have exposed the huge gap between affluent and poverty-stricken parishes just five miles apart.

Research by the Church Urban Fund charity has found the gulf between the parishes of St Peter, in South Shore, and St Cuthbert’s, in Lytham.

While parishioners of St Cuthbert’s find themselves living within the top 10 per cent of affluent areas in the UK, those within St Peter’s boundaries have been found to be in the top 10 per cent most deprived coastal communities in England, where the male life expectancy is just 66 years – 12 years below the UK average.

But Canon Ed Saville, the lead officer for social responsibility in the Diocese of Blackburn, which covers the two parishes, says hard work is being done to help combat the problem within its poorer areas with initiatives such as food banks.

He said: “We’ve known for a while what the situation around Blackpool is so I don’t think anybody will be surprised by these figures.

“We are trying to do something about it though, in that we’re working hard trying to get churches actively involved and meeting the needs of the people that live in those areas.”

The figures derive from Government data which was converted to correspond with parish boundaries.

Coun Sarah Riding, (left), cabinet member for children’s services on Blackpool Council, said: “We know that in the Fylde area there’s a lot of poverty but churches can play an essential role in tackling that.

“There is a lot of really innovative and creative work going on around faith groups.”

Church Urban Fund runs the Together Network, a partnership with Anglican dioceses which provides support to Christians working in poor communities.

Greg Smith, from Together Lancashire, said: “We think of these and other communities as ‘neglected’, but we’ve seen that people in these towns really look out for each other.”