Transforming Lives for Good

The Box of Hope Story

Following the success of previous years, Transforming Lives for Good (TLG) are relaunching their emergency care package project, Box of Hope, this winter. Read more or get involved via the TLG website.

When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the UK, TLG was incredibly concerned about children and families going into isolation without basic necessities. With so many families desperately struggling long before the pandemic hit and many more struggling as a result, it was vital that we stepped up to reach those in need.

Box of Hope was our response right at the beginning of the pandemic. Every parcel contains food supplies for the whole family, essential household items, activities and wellbeing resources, information on other support and messages of hope from our supporters.

We have partnered with 244 churches so far to deliver Box of Hope across the UK, churches who lovingly sought to bless their communities and impact those who need it most.

Together, we’ve reached thousands of families! Box of Hope has been a lifeline for many, providing essential support both practically and emotionally.

Coastal Estates

Coastal Estate Ministry


When we talk of coastal towns, for many of us that evokes childhood images of fish and chips, ice-creams, sandy beaches and a paddle in the clear blue sea. What is quickly forgotten is the hours of sitting in traffic on roads not built to cope with the sudden influx of holiday traffic. Perhaps it comes as a surprise to learn that coastal towns are among some of our most deprived communities in the U.K.

These communities suffer from a number of issues that are rooted in the decline of their core industries. Domestic tourism has been hit by cheap package holidays abroad, but also more traditional industries, such as fishing, ship building and port activities, have been in long term decline. This, combined with their location on the margins of the country, with poor infrastructure, leads to a struggling economy and lack of services, such as health and education.

After some initial investigation into coastal communities, through the support of Urban Expression, Sara and I moved to Looe in Cornwall three years ago. As we have got embedded in this community, we have learnt more of the joys and challenges of this community and an insight into other similar towns. I have found that, whilst there are mission agencies supporting pioneers in urban and rural areas, I have not come across any particular support or encouragement for those engaging in coastal communities. The established churches in many of these small coastal towns seem to be in terminal decline, with denominations and networks instead choosing to opt for the easier wins of investing in inland churches in larger towns and cities.

The encouraging news is that I have some funding to explore ‘Coastal Expression’, working to the values and experience of Urban Expression, but contextualising for the coastal towns. It’s early days, but I am hopeful that this could create some awareness and energy to engage with these forgotten communities.  Below is a picture of the Looe Community Meals Team, who deliver twice-weekly cooked meals to those who are economically disadvantaged, those who are isolated and suffering from ill-health.

Barney Barron

Barney can be contacted on

Who’s who @NECN Introducing John Rafferty


I was born and brought up in a large council housing estate on the South Side of Glasgow. This was the 1950’s and 60’s when the policy was to move people from the old tenements of the centre to new, modern housing on the periphery of town.  50,000 people moved to Pollok where I was born. The housing was better but there was no youth club or community or sports centre. But there were churches. Being Scotland, these were clearly divided between the Protestant Church of Scotland and the Catholic Church. With a few notable exceptions the two never came together. My family was one of these exceptions. My mother being Protestant sent me to Bible class and my father took me to Mass. These churches provided the only social support in a vast estate  which was to become a designated Area of Deprivation.

I was lucky and was the first member of my family to go to university. A long career in the voluntary and public sectors followed and I hope that experience is of some use to NECN.

When I am in Scotland to see my family, I often go back to the estate where I was born. Our house and many others  have been demolished to release land for new private homes. The row of shops I remember has gone to make way for a new “hypermarket”. Lots has changed but the churches are still there. They have a programme of “Churches Together” activities. The Church of Scotland has a youth and sports club in its grounds. The hall of the Catholic Church houses the welfare rights clinic.

It is clear their ministry still has many challenges but it is also clear to me that the life giving force of Christian faith remains alive despite the difficulties. Estates Ministry needs support. That’s what NECN is here to do and I’m happy to help.

Funding from the Co Op

The Co Op


The Co-op have announced a new funding round to support projects which benefit local communities centred around Co-op Food Stores and funeral homes across the UK or the Isle of Man.

The Co-op Local Community Fund will fund projects which help local communities come together to help those in need by providing access to essentials such as community spaces, food and bereavement support; support the mental or physical health of a community through wellbeing activities; or help people develop skills to nurture community spirit and create sustainable communities.

Preference will be given to organisations with an income of less than £1 million a year.

Registered charities, locally-based voluntary and community groups and other not-for-profit organisations will be able to apply for funding from the 4th May 2021.

Use link below

A Space of Welcome in Wythenshawe


Place of Welcome


2020 – What a year!

I came back from my break to Lisbon and went into run our regular Place of Welcome on the first Monday in March.  The conversation was about one thing – Coronavirus.  It soon became apparent a closure was on its way.  Well, that’s it then.  Ill get laid off I thought.  How wrong I was.

Within 4 weeks I was getting to grips with Zoom and running our Places of Welcome as Spaces of Welcome – an online coffee morning.  Locally, emergency funding became available and so I started to apply for 6 months’ worth of “doing things differently” – a better laptop that could cope with Zoom, Teams etc, project funding to send people tea, coffee and biscuits.  We changed our processes for running our Foodbank and weekly community grocery scheme with Bread and Butter Thing.  Many of our regular volunteers were shielding or coping with children being at home so we recruited new volunteers from the local authority neighbourhood team and staff furloughed from Manchester Airport.

We changed our open access holiday breakfast clubs so that we were able to provide a bag of groceries and an activity pack to families.  In the first school holiday we supported 40 families.  We are about to prepare our Easter packs and we will reach 150 families.

We have core funding to December 2022

Tracey Rawlins CDW March 2021

Look out for NECN in conversation with Tracey coming soon on You Tube


Proximity 2021 Programme


A network looking to serve every estate.

Check out the Proximity website for more information about their packed programme to help mobilise and equip you and your team for urban mission.

Alongside keynote speakers Bob Ekblad, Rachel Gardner, Josh Smedley, Sam Ward, Andy Hawthorne and Sarah Small, there’ll also be testimonies from Eden teams, interviews with Eden members and leaders and worshipping together.

Plus they’ve got a bunch of TED style talks focussing on key topics such as:

  • Working across barriers to reach communities
  • Church planting in urban communities
  • Mental health and wellbeing
  • Working in developing nations
  • Climate and Community
  • Creatively engaging with your community
  • Raising up local leaders

There will also be an opportunity to join in a Q&A session with our keynote speakers.

For more info please visit: Proximity 2021: Mobilise – The Message

All the sessions will be shown on our Facebook and Youtube pages so please keep an eye on these for regular updates/promo material. If you can share/like any of our posts that would be much appreciated.


Eden Network



Webinar: C of E vision for the 2020s Monday 26 April, 12.30 – 1.30pm

Church of England Logo

Join Archbishop Stephen Cottrell and panel members to find out more about the emerging vision and strategic priorities for the Church for the next decade.

This is the second in a series of webinars that will explore what it means to be a church that is centred on Jesus Christ and shaped by Jesus Christ – a church that is simpler, humbler, bolder.

In this session, we will be focussing on the strategic priority to be a church where the mixed ecology of many forms of church is the norm. We will be using questions raised in the first of our webinars in this series to inform the content of this session.

As well as hearing from the panel, there will be time for your questions and to find out what the vision and in particular this strategic priority means for you, your church, or diocese.

  • a church of missionary disciples
  • a church which is younger and more diverse
  • a church where the mixed ecology of many forms of church are the norm.

We want to engage with as many people as possible through these webinars. Please forward this invitation to your church networks and colleagues.

Register for the webinar 

“Our vision for being a Jesus Christ centred and Jesus Christ shaped Church will help us focus on what truly matters: the Christ like life of prayer; our worship and our service; the proclamation of God’s good purposes for the world; and how all this is fed and nurtured by word and sacrament, and by our own humble acknowledgment of our need of God’s grace, so that, together, we can build a better, more hopeful future.”
Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell – General Synod, February 2021

Find out more:


Introducing Lynne Cullens Chair of NECN

Who’s who @ NECN

Over the coming months we are going to take a look at who the Trustees of NECN are, their passions, their skills and what they get up to in and out of NECN.

If you would like to get more involved, feel you have passion or skills which could be useful please do get in touch. We have work streams as well as trustee opportunities.

Chair of NECN
Lynne Cullens Chair of NECN


My first encounter with NECN was several years before I joined the Board, via the annual conference which was held in Manchester.  It was a really busy, lively, even slightly chaotic event, filled with folk from a wide range of estates ministries and contexts, and the discussions were noisy, good-natured and rich.

And I’m delighted to say they still are.  NECN has flourished and developed in many ways over recent years, but it remains faithfully, determinedly true to its roots and its passion; the representation, affirmation, advocacy for and service to all those Christian leaders in our estate communities nationally – including myself – for whom ministry is both a daily joy and a challenge.

As Chair of the NECN Board, it’s now my privilege to work alongside the most gifted set of Trustees, who bring passion, focus and wisdom to our stewardship of NECN, under the leadership of Sara, our new Executive Director.

The future for estates ministry will be challenging; NECN will be at the forefront of advocating, resourcing, supporting and praying for estates churches and leaders in those challenges.  If you’re not part of our network already, we’d love you to join us in that.


NECN in Conversation with Pioneer Minister Jane Emson

Revd. Sr. Jane Emson


About the Centre of Mission

Middlesbrough Centre of Mission is based on the Brambles Farm and Thorntree estates in Middlesbrough, which are in the top 1% most deprived neighbourhoods in the country. – Thorntree is being one of the most deprived areas in the UK (IMD 2019). St Thomas Church (Brambles Farm estate) no longer has a building or congregation and was the last Anglican worship on the estate. The last time the church met there was in October 2006 and their building was demolished in 2007. My role is to start a New Worshiping Community (church plant) focusing on the 20s-40s on the estate.


Lockdown has been really busy. We have been taking up to 60 food parcels out every other week. And in the school summer holidays this has increased to 72 families which means we’re supporting more than 260 people.

The food has been donated from Churches outside the parish and also from Together Middlesbrough and Cleveland who has so generously gave us funding. I not only bought dried food but also fresh fruit and veg and meat which included recipes to cook and online Zoom sessions to help.

We have given out activity packs for over 120 children and run events on Facebook. Activity packs included creating a COVID-19 time-capsule and an Easter colouring competition.

Bramble Farm Foodbank

We have now set up an Eco Shop to address food poverty. People pay £2 for 15 items of food. Food is donated from the local supermarket. Volunteers from local families help to run the shop.

Life before Lockdown

When I first started my role as Lead Evangelist I was told not to really do anything other than get to know the area and to listen to what God is saying for the first 6 months. I understood why and the importance especially as I didn’t know the area its needs or anyone. Anyway, for those who know me this was near on impossible.

So I began by going out with Fr Terry and his Coffee van three mornings a week. It’s where we park the van in different parts of the estates and give out free coffee to people in the local community. With a stamp on the side saying ‘given with God’s love’. In doing this it not only enabled me to be present but also form some good relationships. One in particular was with a guy called L who had recently come out of prison where he told me he had spent most of his life and he told me that he gave his life to Jesus just a few weeks before his release. He said that he would like to help me set up a church and that he wanted to share his faith.

Brambles Farm Coffee Van

I also started to build up good working partnerships and was handed keys to three local community centres and was told I could use them free of charge to set up what groups I felt appropriate, even a church. I was also asked to be one of the trustees at one of the centres.

One of the centres already had a youth club called Tommy’s. However just a few weeks after my arrival the club closed due to lack of attendance. About a month after this I was asked by the Area Dean if I could start it back up. Which I did in November after lots of prayer, a great team and a few changes. We ended up with 142 young people on the register in just a few months.

I find it such an honour and privilege to serve God in Brambles Farm and Thorntree. The people, children and young people are so amazing. They are a beautiful community who are generous and support each other. And whilst being over here I have also met my future husband David. We got engaged on Valentine’s day.

Reverend Sister Jane Anne Emson

Pioneer Minister, Deacon and Church Army Sister

NECN in conversation with Andy Greiff

St Aidan's Buttershaw Estate

Buttershaw Estate in Bradford is most famous for the setting of Rita, Sue and Bob Too film and the birth place of its author Andrea Dunbar. This gritty comedy/ drama shows what life can be like on a northern estate, but there are many other stories that paint the picture.
It’s been so encouraging over the past 12 months that those of us who care for the community have worked together to help the great need that exists with donations to the food bank, clothes bank, baby bank etc. Those involved were a mixture; Buttershaw Baptists, the local Catholic Church, Sandale Trust, Bradford Bulls Rugby Club, ourselves at St Aidan’s and St Michael’s, local council officers plus many volunteers. That has been the success story of the last 12 months and nothing demonstrated that better than when we all got together with Santa (the Baptist Minister) on a big truck and slowly rolled around the streets of the estates, carols and Christmas songs blasting out, giving generously donated brand new toys to excited and happy children. Looking forward to the mega Easter Egg hunt in a few weeks.
To find out more about how St. Aidan’s is reaching out on Buttershaw estate watch the interview on You Tube:
Foodbank Donations
If you live locally to St. Aidan’s you may wish to donate to the foodbank collection box outside the church. You can also join St. Aidan’s Facebook Group.

Rev Andy Greiff (St Michael’s Shelf with St Aidan’s Buttershaw