As an extension of its new advocacy partnership, the UCC’s Justice and Witness Ministries (JWM) and Council for Health and Human Service Ministries (CHHSM) have released the first installment — Health Care for All — of the Be A Voice Health and Human Service Toolkit. The toolkit, with links to both JWM and CHHSM web and social media resources, is available in a new advocacy section of the CHHSM website.

“Health and Human Services encompasses a broad range of issues, and it can be daunting to know where or how to begin,” says the Rev. Elyse Berry, CHHSM’s associate for advocacy and leadership development. “The Be a Voice Toolkit was created to provide categorized information and advocacy tools for the 2020 election. And, as a resource co-authored by staff from CHHSM and JWM, it is written from a faith-based perspective and focuses on issues, not particular candidates or political parties. As such, it is an easily accessible way for people to make their voices heard on issues that matter to them, and to be part of the movement for a more just, caring, and compassionate world.”

Current research shows that differences in community health can be traced to unequal social and economic conditions. Such factors as race, ethnicity, income, class, neighborhood, housing, discrimination, employment, gender, education, age, sexual orientation and gender identity all can impact one’s well-being. The Be A Voice Toolkit emphasizes health equity.

One of the social media graphics included in the first installment of the Be A Voice Advocacy Toolkit.

“The toolkit is written with a vision of health equity — where systemic conditions are improved so that everyone has the opportunity to attain their full health potential, and no one is prevented from achieving this because of social factors,” Berry adds.

Resources will be available each month in the run-up to the 2020 election to help congregations, UCC members, and CHHSM organizations discern faith-based, nonpartisan responses to various election issues.

“The advocacy issues covered in this toolkit stem from the various services that CHHSM members provide to their communities,” says Michael J. Readinger, CHHSM president and CEO. “They also are topics that CHHSM’s Board of Directors selected to guide us in being a voice for social justice.”

In addition to healthcare, issues to be covered in the toolkit include affordable housing and homelessness; reproductive health care; children, youth, and family services; older adult services; food insecurity; disability services, health care access; and mental health and substance use.

Each installment of the toolkit includes a real-life story of how lives are changed; background information on why the issue is important in 2020; a history of faith-based, nonpartisan responses; questions about the social justice aspect of the issue that can be asked to candidates running for political office; and additional online resources, including articles and fact sheets. The kit also contains samples of social media graphics, which can be accessed and shared via the CHHSM and JWM social media sites.

The Be A Voice Toolkit works in tandem with JWM’s Our Faith Our Vote Campaign, which provides information and ideas to assist individuals, congregations and organizations engage in the electoral process in nonpartisan and meaningful ways.

“My hope is that the launch of the Be A Voice 2020 advocacy toolkit will empower people who may never have thought of themselves as justice advocates to find their voice and share the impact that health and human service policies have on their day-to-day lives,” says Sandy Sorensen, director of JWM’s Washington, D.C., office. “Everyone’s story matters, and every voice matters in this pivotal election year.”

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