Last week I attended just some of the amazing sessions at the Food Power Festival. So many people, churches and groups are finding innovative and yet simple ways to support those suffering food poverty. Looking for good examples where dignity and solidarity are paramount. This is the story of a journey to love and support estate life born out of collaboration.
Park Community School is based in a ward that is in the top 10% deprivation areas and has been for a very long time. Our students are 98% white British and parent’s majority working class. The ethos of our school is ‘Much More Than Just a School’ which means that whilst we will do everything we can for students to achieve the right number of GCSEs we also offer wide ranging opportunities many of them off site. We will shortly be returning, after Covid restrictions are lifted, to being open till 10pm at night and a minimum of 9-6pm at weekends throughout the year, we even open on Christmas Day.
What I want to write about is how partners can aid community cohesion, parental and student buy in to what you are trying to achieve as an educational establishment. One initiative that made significant difference to us and everyone they linked with was called PO9 Pioneers.
he Churches in the area combined to create two posts and they were called PO9 Pioneers. The background of these two individuals was that they were Baptist Ministers. When I was introduced during our first conversation I was concerned that this was going to be about introducing those they were helping to religion. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. They brought care, compassion, empathy, counselling, support in many guises, signposting, new ideas and links to those in our community we found as a school hard to engage with.
To read the full summary of how Park Community School benefitted from using PO9 Pioneers to reach the community download this PDF:
This film was made in 2017 fiction reflecting fact as it shines a light on the hand to mouth existence of children living on the peripheries of Disney World. Highlighting the life of those in poverty against an idyllic backdrop. As well as a compelling story it shows the complexities of life experienced through the eyes of children.
I found a resonance which reminded me that children see life as normal whatever their experience until someone shows or tells them otherwise. There is childhood innocence, pleasure in the small things and vulnerability which brings a human beauty to what is a hard and heart-breaking life.
Holy Nativity shared some hope for the future with the local community as it gave 500 Easter eggs to local children. Revd Robb and the church community organised the eggs for every pupil at Ash Green Primary School.
“This past 12 months has been so hard for everyone, none more so than our children” says Revd Robb. “We have seen childhoods disrupted for everyone. Lockdown has taken it’s toll on the whole family and it is important to ensure that children in our communities have a future to hope for. For The Church, Easter is the greatest hope we have. We remember that in the midst of the horror of Good Friday, God brought transformation.”
As half term approaches we have some good news about how Holy Nativity Church in Mixenden have stepped in to help hungry families.
Ash Green Community Primary School provide breakfast packs and food parcels to the most vulnerable families and families have been able to access the government free school meals vouchers.
To fill the void during the holiday, Holy Nativity has secured funding to provide every child in the school with a £10 shopping voucher. The vouchers are being hand delivered, abiding by social distancing guidelines, by school staff, Reverend Robb Sutherland, vicar of Holy Nativity Church himself and school governors.
Ash Green’s staff members regularly undertake house calls during lockdown to check on children’s welfare, deliver food, hand out prizes for outstanding remote learning work. They support families with any concerns that can’t be dealt with by phone.
Revd Sutherland said, “We hope that a £10 Morrisons voucher for each child at Ash Green will help families across the estate and make being stuck at home in the coldest and darkest part of the year a little bit brighter.”
Have you got good news to share about how your estate church is helping families during the pandemic? We would love to hear all about it. Please get in touch with email@example.com and we will put this on the website.
Guvna B, a double MOBO Award winning rapper and author from East London, was recently interviewed at the Everything Conference, the focus of which is how Christians can renew culture. Guvna B has faced challenges and disadvantages in life but has nevertheless achieved some remarkable things. How has God has used these weaknesses or the disadvantages in his life to more effectively serve Him?
Here are some extracts from the interview as Guvna B reflects:
“Well, I grew up on a council estate in East London and a big disadvantage would be the lack of opportunity…
I actually started out rapping about girls, guns, drugs, and I realised that I didn’t do drugs, didn’t have a gun, didn’t get any girls…
I’d say the only thing more exhausting than standing out and being true to yourself is waking up every day and having to put on a mask and pretend that you’re someone that deep down you know that’s not you…”
His talk about being true to yourself and God, despite the pressures of growing up in a tough area is really inspiring and honest. If you would like to read more of Guvna B’s reflection visit:
CURBS is a small Christian charity set up in 1996 in response to the need for resources and training for church-linked children’s workers in inner cities and on outer urban estates.
Like many charities we have been hit financially by COVID and they’re currently £8000 short to keep going this year. Because of this they have lauched a 100@5 campaign. They’re asking 100 members of our community to commit to giving just £5 a month to keep CURBS going. Can you help?
CURBS would like to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has already supported them in their 100@5 campaign. They are currently at 55 regular givers on their way to the target of 100, and your support so far has kept CURBS going through this very difficult time and will continue to do so up till Christmas so thank you!
They’re not out the woods quite yet and would so love to reach the target of 100 regular givers giving £5 a month. Just 45 more peoplesupporting CURBS in this way would make CURBS much more sustainable and pay for their development worker’s wage to the end of the financial year.
So if you meant to set up regular giving but never quite got round to it, or if you know someone who would be interested in supporting them please visit the website
Despite lockdown, tiers and restrictions, the HUBS continue to be busy around the UK, working out different ways of how to connect with children and families during this difficult time. From days of prayer for children, to delivering packs through doors, to patiently meeting up again slowly but surely, they’ve been inspired to hear what people are doing. You can read Stories from Lockdown here.
CURBS continues to be an important voice in the conversations happening around how churches are reaching in to estates. It is wonderful to see this topic being more widely talked about and we look forward to seeing where God is taking us.
We thank you for your continued support of CURBS and you’ll hear more about this from us soon!
CURBS resource material is made up of a number of packs called CURBStone Kits.
These are primarily issue-based and start in the child’s own world, not where we think they ought to be! The aim is to help children make meaningful links between their world and God’s story. Each kit draws on biblical material related to the theme, sometimes used explicitly, sometimes implicitly.
We recognise that many children will be non-readers. In the light of this CURBS explore other approaches to learning, touching the child’s spirituality through imagination and creativity, the use of visual and aural approaches, and above all through opportunities to build quality relationships with each child. However, CURBS believe that even the best resource is no substitute for relationship.
If you would like to download the free resource exploring the “I am” sayings of Jesus please click here.
Are you looking for inspiration for children’s sermons or an all-age service? Pastor John Stevens from Zion Lutheran Church, Oregon has some great ideas on hos blog Dollar Store Children Sermons .
Each week Pastor John shares a video clip of his ideas around the Sunday readings. Sometimes he has a fully developed story which can simply be reused. On other days he is offering lots of different suggestions as a springboard for you to go away with and come up with your own idea.
Each dollar sermon comes with suggestions for props you might use with children and a main ‘Take Away’ for the message.
Pastor John is warm, enthusiastic and fun! The ideas he shares can be used in your own home if you have a young family or for you to film yourself for a virtual service or reflection. They can be adapted to fit a range of situations and contexts, even a global pandemic.