Much more than just a school

Park Community School


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.

Park Community School
A community school initiative for children and young people


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:

Please contact me for further information at

Susan Parish


Across the country, there are many who have just had to keep going…and it won’t be until they are finally able to pause, that the full extent of the damage done in their lives will become apparent.

Four years on, I know that God has restored my soul in so many beautiful ways, but I still have flashbacks and sometimes experience times of intense anxiety.  I am still on the journey towards integrating my experiences into my own story and learning to live out a new normal. Many in our country have experienced some kind of trauma during this pandemic and they too are going to need time, significant time, to process and integrate all that they have seen or felt or heard.

I believe that the church is in an amazing position to respond to the needs of
those in our nation who need to be restored at this time. We know that Jesus is
the One who can bring hope, healing and peace. And we have a God who is able
to do more than we could ever hope or imagine: He can restore my soul and

restore is simply a way to equip churches and others to facilitate this restoration in their own communities. It is a work in progress and I offer it as a starting point.

restore: Who’s it for?

Lucy is a nurse. Usually, she works on the orthopaedics ward, but since the start of the Covid pandemic, she has been working every shift in the ICU unit, nursing very sick patients. She has had to gain new skills very fast in a high-pressure situation…and she has seen some patients die. Lucy has always loved nursing, but nothing could have prepared her for her experiences over the last year and now she’s weary…

Steve is in his 50s and before Covid he worked in a restaurant, but, despite everyone’s best efforts, the business folded and now he faces unemployment. What’s he going to do? How’s he going to cope financially? Steve is trying to be positive, but underneath, the anxiety is gnawing away at him…

Aisha is 17 and working hard at school for her GCSEs, whatever they’re going to look like. It’s been such a tough year. She’s only been in school half the time and there have been weeks of isolation at home, with nothing but a screen to connect her with her friends. She’s back at school now but she just feels really down…

restore aims to be a safe, gently welcoming space in the lives of people who are weary and damaged and at the end of themselves.


The restore space has been designed by Jane Crook who is training to be a priest in the Church of England.

If you would like further details about how to run a restore session please download the PDF below:

Restore NECN

Wanted Team Rector in South East London

Diocese of Southwark Logo

The Catford (Southend) Team Ministry has a flourishing and varied church life across four churches in a large area of South East London located between Catford and Bromley.

The Catford and Downham Team, a large and diverse interwar estate parish (in the top 7% most deprived parishes according to CUF IMD), in South East London is looking for a new Team Rector.
If you are passionate about leading a team of lay and ordained colleagues from a broad variety of backgrounds and church traditions to share the Good News of Jesus and serve the community, this might be the place God is calling you.
Further details can be found on:
Closing date: 9th June.

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:


What about a good film to watch?

The Florida Project

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.

If you would like to see the trailer the link is