Hope Community Witham

Estate Comunity Church

Once again churches and communities are having to dig deep into keeping hold of hope as we start the New Year with a third lockdown.

Today we bring you some good news of an estate church in Witham, Essex, the Hope Community. Their mission is ‘Bringing Hope, Being Community’. You can find their page on Facebook here.

Like many churches since March 2020, Hope Community have had to quickly learn how to put services online and go through a steep learning curve. Services are currently being streamed live every week via Facebook where engagement has grown from 70 views per week to over 500 views. A Zoom Alpha Group has also been set up by Revd Will Abbott for people to explore questions brought up in the uncertainty of this season which are advertised through Facebook and this group is growing.

Goody Bags Hope Community

As well as being flexible in how to worship God and pray, Hope Community have been reaching out to families in need through the Love Where You Live scheme. This scheme was originally set up in Wythenshawe by The Message. During Love Where You Live weeks in Wythenshawe, volunteers have been delivering food parcels, cleaning up rubbish and even sprucing up gardens. You can read more about the Wythenshawe project on https://www.message.org.uk/love-where-you-live-2/

In Witham, volunteers gave out  over 400 goody bags and food over Christmas to families who have been really touched by this act of kindness. Donations for the foodbank are coming in regularly and there is a Just Giving ‘Love Where U Live’ fundraising page to raise money towards outreach projects to support and care for the wider community. A recent appeal has been for funds to buy treats for NHS staff to show appreciation of their frontline work. A link to give a donation to this fund can be found here.

Hope Community have plans in the pipeline to launch their own website later this year as a charitable organisation. In the meantime if you would like some more details about Hope Community which works with St. Nicolas Church, Witham, visit https://www.withamparishchurch.org.uk/

 

Estates at Advent 2020

Estates at Advent
Weoley Castle, Birmingham

 

We may be locked down but let’s open up the beauty of estate churches. We want to create an Advent Calendar featuring different estates for each day. If you want to take part email christinem@cofebirmingham.com with a photo from your estate or church, the name & town of your estate for #EstatesatAdvent
If you are on Twitter let us know your hashtag and if on Facebook the name of your page so that we can tag you when your photo is posted!
Photos can be autumnal or wintery, feature decorations, crib scenes, estate lights, tattooed Santas – you name it, we’d love to see it. We’d also love to see any funny or happy photos too. Remember, all photos featuring people can only be shown with their consent and adults need to sign a safeguarding form from your church before we can use any photos featuring children.
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Managing a changed financial landscape in 2020

CAP logo

2020 has been a year for polarising the rich and the poor. Those who are in well-paid jobs and who are able to work from home saved 8.6% of their income in the first three months of 2020 according to Christians Against Poverty.

Sadly, those who are the lowest earners and the under-30s have been left struggling financially in the wake of COVID-19. From this group 37% say they’ve eaten less than normal, and 31% have reduced the number of showers or baths they’re taking.

The Cap Money Course

Christians Against Poverty are offering free online courses that meet weekly for 6 weeks. These courses aim to teach budgeting skills and help people to face the reality of what is coming into their bank account and what is going out. Having more control over finances can help to prevent debt and encourages people to save where possible.

To find out more visit https://capuk.org/i-want-help/courses/cap-money-course/introduction

The Cinnamon Network and Local Partnerships

 

The Cinnamon Network

If you have not come across the Cinnamon Network yet in your community or church ministry do take a look at their website https://www.cinnamonnetwork.co.uk/

The Cinnamon Network delivers training, advice and small grants to help churches start social action projects in their communities.

They also offer regular free webinars that you can sign up to. The upcoming webinar is on building partnerships with local agencies, other churches ad local authorities next Thursday, 5th November at 11 am. More information, including how to book can be found on https://www.cinnamonnetwork.co.uk/better-together/ 

There is also a wonderful story of how the Cinnamon Network has helped a church in Erdington, a built-up community in Birmingham with significant levels of unemployment, to set up a Job Club through local partnership working:

Erdington – Alive with Hope

Fundraising support for churches during COVID-19 and beyond

Ecclesiastical Insurance

During these difficult times Ecclesiastical Insurance  in collaboration with fundraising specialists, the Philanthropy Company, have put together really helpful advice and support resources to help you to fundraise for your church community.

Top tips

First of all there is a checklist of top tips for how to begin fundraising. A link to this page can be found here. You will also find a link to various databases of funders and emergency grant funders on that page. There is a search function which could help you to identify a potential funder. Some databases are free and others are available if you pay a subscription.

Build your case

Secondly, once you have decided who you are going to apply to for funding you will need to build a strong case in your application form. This will include:

  • a strong vision of what you want to achieve
  • a breakdown of costs
  • a plan of how you are going to monitor and evaluate the impact of your project.

A more comprehensive checklist can be found be found on https://www.ecclesiastical.com/church/fundraising/application-checklist/

There is also a handy guidance sheet that you can use to help you to write your case if you are new to fundraising.

Outputs and outcomes – what’s the difference?

Finally, you will need to have a clear understanding on some of the key terms used by funders when you apply and when you report back on how the funds have helped your target group. This includes understanding the difference between an output ( the resources used by your church to help others e.g. a new youth worker) and an outcome ( e.g. young people are less isolated). Ecclesiastical Insurance explain this brilliantly on https://www.ecclesiastical.com/church/fundraising/outputs-outcomes/

A free webinar which lasts for around 30 minutes which goes over these points can be viewed on https://www.ecclesiastical.com/church/fundraising/fundraising-webinar/

A final word…

Funders like to see collaboration and partnership. Before you get going on your fundraising make sure that no one else is already doing something similar in your area. Or, if you come across other organisations working with a similar group of people, can you offer something different to that fills a gap? For example, if you want to reduce the isolation of older people can you work in local partnership with other denominations or organisations to complement each other’s work?

 

 

Welcome to MITE – Mission in the Edges

Diocese of Guildford Logo

What is MITE?

MITE stands for Mission In The Edges – it is a deliberate play on the story of the Widows mite from Luke’s Gospel:

As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury.  He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. ‘Truly I tell you,’ he said, ‘this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.’

Widow's mite

We are a group of Clergy in the diocese of Guildford who meet together 3-4 times a year to share the joys and sorrows of working in and with more deprived communities in the diocese around Surrey and Hampshire.

Sometimes it may feel like we have little to offer and yet we have a huge contribution to make to the life of the diocese – in presence and prophetically reminding that we must take the poor seriously.

We talk about all kinds of topics that affect us from encouraging vocations and making diocesan training more accessible to people with differing levels of education, to what works in services when you have no one to help or do any children’s work and what version of the bible is best understood. How to be resourceful with little.

We share resources that we find useful and helpful and try to learn from each other what things make a difference in our ministries. We connect with different diocesan departments and try to keep the hidden poor in Surrey and Hampshire visible and heard.

We celebrate together the joys of church where you never quite know what the day will bring and the frustration at the systems and injustices that keep people in poverty. We encourage each other to keep on going because our successes and triumphs can be fragile – hard won and easily lost.

One key thing we have been working on after our diocesan conference  with Bishop Phillip North, is trying to find ways to enable wealthier churches to join in with us in ways that will enrich both parties – and to this end we hope that we will be able to feed some of this work – a manifesto if you like into the diocese- born out of our experience.

We are also Part of the National Estate Churches Network. https://estatechurches.org/

If your parish covers an area that has 500 units of social housing and we can help you in any way please do get in touch.

Our Diocesan contact is Danny Wignall  in the PDE dept. Danny.Wignall@cofeguildford.org.uk

Or Kirsten Rosslyn-Smith Vicar St Peter’s Shared Church  kirsten.rs@btinternet.com

The Street Connectors

Firs & Bromford Estate

Our featured blog this Friday is from the Street Connectors on the Firs & Bromford estate on the outskirts of Birmingham, near Spaghetti Junction.

The Street Connectors blog tells the story of how local people and street connectors are connecting people, places, ideas, skills, talents, hopes and dreams. The Street Connector programme is a local partnership between the Open Doors Community Foundation and Firs & Bromford Neighbours together.

Paul Wright coordinates and supports the project as a Street Connector Mentor. People who live on the estate take the lead and do the connecting for themselves.

Firs & Bromford Estate

Bumping places and creating community

On the Our Stories of Connecting tab you will find stories about what people can give and what people are passionate about. These are in the ‘bumping places’ where people might encounter one another as well as the public spaces such as the Village Green in the above photo. The stories are beautifully set out and easy to navigate your way around, illustrated with lots of pictures which show the strength of the community bonds. The whole idea is about being with not doing for neighbours, recognising the treasure of gifts and talents that are already present in the community.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought an extra dimension to consider when connecting people on the estate. After all, the whole point of the Street Connectors is to reduce social distancing! Some of the questions that the Street Connectors are still grappling with include:

“How does physical distancing not mean goodbye, farewell, and separation, but promote news ways of presence, closeness, lovingness, and nearness?

How does social isolation not mean loneliness, segregation, and seclusion, but would require new ways of thinking through radical inclusion, solidarity, and mutual support?”

More than ever this means focusing on what is strong within the community, not on ‘what is wrong’ when people have been told to shield because they are vulnerable. The first blog reflecting on how to respond as a neighbour to COVID-19 can be read here. More recent blogs reflect on some extraordinarily creative responses, the joy and the momentum generated in finding new ways to be present to one another, and the lament when something goes wrong. There are also stories of continuing resilience and hope too which can be found on https://streetconnector.com/ourstories/

English My Way

Learning English

English My Way is a programme designed specifically for people living in the UK, whose English language abilities are below Entry Level 1.

The aim is to help adults who have very little or no English language skills to become a part of their local communities. The course can be taught through a mix of tutor-led sessions, on-line learning and a volunteer group activity. You can read more about English My Way here.

There are all sorts of teaching and learning materials including lesson plans, flashcards, assessments and short videos of everyday scenarios. These can be downloaded on https://www.englishmyway.co.uk/teaching-materials 

Topics include the neighbourhood, catching a bus, a child’s school, looking after your health, phoning an ambulance, going to the dentist and going to a job interview. The situations are very practical. For example, one video is about learning how to return a faulty product from the market.

Now that some churches are getting the hang of using Zoom, it would be possible for a tutor to teach remotely too if necessary. The courses can be run at a pace suitable for the local group.

English language class

Finally from the English My Way blog page look out for the lovely video of an enterprising Muslim lady and her friend who prepare their market stall for the first time and use their language skills to interact with the customers. There are lots of other video stories on the blog too.

e3 TV

Joe Hasler’s blog on working class culture and estates ministry

Bristol Estate

 

This Friday we introduce the blog of estates priest and practitioner, Joe Halser at http://www.joehasler.co.uk/

Joe grew up in a working class area in South London and  worked for 17 years as a community development worker and has been an Anglican priest for 25 years on estates in Birmingham, Essex, Liverpool and Bristol. His Masters research is on Mission and Working Class Culture.

Firstly, there is a lot of rich reflection from Joe on the experiences of people in his community in Lockleaze, Bristol, as people gradually discern their gifts and what God is calling them to do. The documents on Joe’s reflections can all be downloaded from his website. An example you might want to look at here is

1. Accidental beginnings lead to core issues  This document tells the story of how the community began to identify the first of its local leaders. The other documents reflect on whether this process was specific to that particular estate or whether it was a journey that other parishes and communities could consider adopting or learning from.

Ideas for Liturgy and Learning on Estates

Joe generously shares plans he has developed for services which can take place outside the church building and are physically interactive. These can be found by clicking here.

He has also developed a Christian Basics course specifically for people on estates. He sensitively points out barriers to learning such as negative experiences at school and has designed the resources so that they can be accessed by anyone who has difficulty with reading.  The focus is very much on the physical presence of Jesus. These can be downloaded here.

Theological Models of Community Development

If you are a community worker or church leader on an estate you might want to take a look at Joe’s Theological Resources for Community Development

The brilliant thing about these papers is that Joe links perspectives drawn from liberation, feminist and Black theology to reflections on real experiences of communities working together to address serious issues. He goes into thorough detail about the reasons why concerns from people on estates have not been listened to by the local council and how people respond. An example is when children are seriously hurt and hospitalised by fast moving traffic on a dual carriageway.

The hope is that despite the injustice of power structures which appear to brush the cry of the poor under the carpet, changes can be made because people have risen up and asked for basic human rights like road safety and adequate housing to be taken seriously.

For anyone who sees their role in the community as a calling and a ministry, not just as a job or a place where they happen to be living, there is much food for thought in Joe’s writing to chew on.

Church Related Community Work in the United Reformed Church

United Reformed Church logo

 

Church Related Community Work is a distinctive and recognised ministry within the United Reformed Church and Church Related Community Workers play a vital role in the denomination’s community involvement. URC CRCWs are called by God, professionally and theologically trained and then commissioned to help the church to live out its calling.

If you are a member of the URC and feel called to ministering to your community you can read more about the role and the meet some past and present CRCWs on https://urc.org.uk/become-a-crcw/19-ministries/church-related-community-work.html

The United Reformed Church website also shares some very handy links to organisations that provide project development grants and funding on https://urc.org.uk/community-funding.html