On the first day of Living Wage Week, St Katharine Cree (the Guild Church for Workers) held a service entitled Praying and Acting for a Living Wage.
Led by the Bishop of London, it included testimony from care workers and music from one of the Catholic parishes in east London which founded the Living Wage Campaign.
Testimony: Doris Coronado
My name is Doris, I am originally from Ecuador. I am a parent, a cleaner a dance enthusiast and an active leader of Empoderando Familias, a Latin-American parent engagement group from King´s College. I participated in South London Listens, a campaign designed to help prevent a mental ill-health crisis as a direct result of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Being involved in this allowed me and others across South London to identify the profound impact of precarious working conditions on our daily life. Across South London we listened to health and care workers, cleaners and more, I listened to Latin American workers, who like me, are being overworked, overlooked and underpaid. This has a huge on our well-being.
For a worker that is struggling to make ends meet, economic stability will always be a concern that puts immense pressure on our daily lives. South London Listens was an opportunity to share our stories of low-pay work- narratives of anguish, resilience, and survival. Though we may sometimes feel like voices in the wilderness. Through this work, we have been able to make a change. Persuading key decision makers to pay the real living wage to cleaners and health workers across the NHS. Our work led to a pay increase for over 2,671 people.
Just as important as these wins we must embrace and celebrate the value we all share as human beings. The living wage campaign invites us to celebrate workers’ dignity. To demand that workers, like myself, are treated with respect.
Reflection: Nkem Okoli
My name is Nkem Okoli. I am a care worker, and a member of Holy Family Catholic Parish in Dagenham.
When I pray the Rosary, one of the mysteries I reflect on is Jesus’ proclamation of the Kingdom of God. Whenever I get to that mystery, the third Luminous Mystery of the Rosary, it reminds me you are called to proclaim the Word not just through words but through action.
Most of us are not going to be able to be preachers but you proclaim the Kingdom by the way you relate to your neighbour. There are so many practical ways in which we can be a light to one another.
Care workers are a light to people when they are at their most vulnerable. But for us to be that light, we need to not be overwhelmed and exhausted by the burden of work. We need to have the right number of staff and be working an appropriate number of hours.
When we are paid a Living Wage, we can care well for those in need, have time to care for our families and communities, and be cared for ourselves. A Living Wage means that light of God’s care can burn brighter for everyone.
Credits: Photos by Graham Lacdao