Bishop of London urges Government to tackle cost of living crisis and health inequality in Easter message

Bishop of London Dame Sarah Mullally  (PA Archive)
Bishop of London Dame Sarah Mullally (PA Archive)

The Bishop of London used her Easter message to urge the Government to tackle the cost of living crisis and health inequalities in the capital which she said were exposed by the pandemic.

Dame Sarah Mullally said there would be “cautious” celebrations this Easter following two years of restrictions because of Covid.

But she added rising bills and the capital’s low vaccination rates would continue to impact Londoners disproportionately unless there was intervention from authorities.

“This year, we share another experience of life renewed,” she said.

“For the first time in two years, we can gather together at Easter without legal Covid-19 restrictions, while caution remains. At the same time, many Londoners are facing restrictions of another kind.

"The stark rising cost of living affects us all, but impacts our city’s most vulnerable the most acutely. Those most affected financially will be more impacted in health and social terms, too.

“Today, women born in the most deprived areas of England can expect to live in good health for 20 years less than those born into the least deprived areas, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. For men this figure stands at around 18 years.

“The impact of deprivation is not just limited to physical health; prevalence of mental disorders such as anxiety and depression is almost twice as high in children living in households in receipt of income-related benefits.

"This injustice is present throughout the country and ashamedly so in our capital city.

“The Government’s focus on levelling up aims to redistribute spending and resources to outside of the capital, but as Bishop of London I see daily that a redistribution of resources and opportunities within the capital is just as urgently required.

“Suffering from the highest rate of poverty in the UK, affecting more than one in four, London has among the starkest health inequalities in England. The factors are many and varied, including the quality of health and care services, individual behaviour, education, housing and access to green space.”

Dame Sarah vowed to “advocate for action in the House of Lords” to improve the health inequalities that the pandemic had exposed in London.

She also celebrated the work religious groups have done in improving the take up of the Covid jab after mosques, churches and other faith buildings were used as vaccination centres.

“Last month, I gathered with a range of faith leaders and health professionals in the East London Mosque in Whitechapel, at a meeting of the newly-formed Health Inequalities Action Group,” she said.

“We heard first-hand the differing challenges that Londoners face when accessing healthcare, and how these experiences are intertwined with poverty and other indicators of inequality.

“Health professionals and community leaders meeting at the mosque were clear: the pandemic has worsened health inequalities in our city, particularly with respect to mental health. There is more to be done, and I will continue to advocate for action in the House of Lords.

“However, the Easter message of new life invites us not merely to enjoy the life we see around us, but to work together with our communities to support and nurture those more vulnerable than ourselves.”