Engaging with our communities at a time of need
It is difficult not to be aware of the impact of spending cuts and economic difficulties at the present time. There seems to be a new story every day of job losses, redundancies and uncertainty about future stability. How we as Churches and Christians respond.
Offering hospitality and support
Churches can make a practical difference! The Front Room job club in Swindon has been an example of practical action that makes a real difference to people. A few committed people finding time to open the church and provide hospitality route for some into new jobs. If you would like to find out more please do contact ISR.
Awareness and prayer
How is your church community affected by the rise in unemployment and job losses? Are there people in your church who have lost their job, or people who are living with uncertainty? The word “redundant” has terrible overtones of being surplus to requirements or not being needed as a person and however much people are told it is their post, not them as a person that is redundant, the anger and hurt that ensues is painful and real. How can your church be alongside people living through such difficulty. Can our prayers in church reflect the realities of the world of work? Can our prayers for others engage with the hurt and pain in our midst? The ISR website will have resources and ideas.
There are many opportunities for churches to engage with their local agenda.
Whether that is through a neighbourhood forum or community partnership, there is an urgent need for the voice of the church to engage with community action and organisation in being part of a local response to need. Many churches are engaged and active but if you would like help in finding out how to engage in your area pleased do contact ISR.
Serving others is at the heart of the way of discipleship and there are many churches who have developed projects to respond to the needs of others in their community. One such approach is to consider developing a chaplaincy to local workplaces though your church. ISR can support, train and encourage such projects and we would love to hear from anyone who feels that they would like to be involved with this form of outward looking ministry.
I was made redundant in the summer of 2010.
At the age of 55 years I felt that I was on the slippery slope to being on jobseekers allowance and depression. Someone suggested that voluntary work may be a way of keeping a structure in my life. After some short but meaningful training I joined ISR and their Partnership with Prison Advice Care Trust.
My volunteer journey with ISR and P.A.C.T. has been:
- Educational: developing a better understanding the massive issues that ex-prisoners face on returning to the community.
- Enjoyable: meeting new people and developing bonds.
- Realistic: when you have to try and understand the huge challenges facing the person you are working with.
- Rewarding: when you are able to contribute to someone’s achievement.
I work as a chaplain the Outlet Centre in Swindon. The people who work in the retail trade are sometimes ‘invisible’ to their customers. They have to take the moans when they often have no control over the situation. They can tell all this stuff, and whatever else they want to talk about to us. We hold it in confidence and accept people as they are, we do not judge or preach. We just befriend and try to show God’s love.
Just over a year ago a lady who worked in one of my shops had a terrible accident and died. It was really awful for her work mates in the shop. She had been friends with them for years. I visited many times during this period, and then attended the funeral with them. Some of them were very young and had never been to a funeral before; they did not know what was expected of them. I was able to sit with them and help.
I believe volunteers who care for people have an immediate impact as well as an ongoing, long-term impact on the local community. As a volunteer, I am energized by working with other volunteer’s. I have learned a lot about myself and how to survive in different situations of life. It has opened my eyes to see my strengths and the privilege there is in sharing with others.
Then I experience the saying ‘there is more joy in giving than receiving.’ Volunteering certainly allows you to penetrate well beyond the surface, and really makes you feel you have a purpose.
Your presence and focus on these issues is inspiring to your community members, and provides fuel for thoughts such as ‘a citizen’s duties to their society’.
Disciples at Work
There seems at times to be a gulf between the world of work, where many of us spend most of our time, and the world of the church. Mark Greene from the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity
has called it “The Great Divide” in a recent booklet aimed at helping Christians reflect on this.
Work matters hugely.
Mark says “Work is the primary activity God created us to pursue - in communion with him, and in partnership with others. Indeed, one of work's main goals is to make God's world a better place for all God's creatures to flourish in - to His glory. And that applies whether our primary work is in the home, in a school, an office, a factory, a field or a church. Work is therefore one of the primary ways we live out what it means to be a whole-life disciple of Jesus - seeking first his kingdom, doing good work in his strength, seeking to bless colleagues and customers and suppliers, and seeking to contribute to making the organisations we work in good places to do good work.”
This is one of the biggest challenges for mission in our churches today. How will we equip and support people to be disciples in their place of work? How can Christian discipleship really be made a whole life commitment and seek to change the values and commitments that we meet in the workplace?
Can ISR help you and your church? We can lead a service of worship to focus on the issue, resource a study or fellowship group to explore this or help your leadership team to engage and challenge the church. If we can help you then please do contact ISR.
The Front Room Experience
As the job market becomes more unpredictable, those of us who are outside the mainstream assistance routes, that is over 40’s, find increasing complexity in making our applications relevant for today’s market. This is where The Front Room provides support & encouragement for us to share our concerns.
Rather than worry by ourselves, together as a group, we find that our actions to get work give us as much chance as anyone else and our morale is boosted by conversation, sharing good experiences and bad ones, and a lunch!
By talking with like minded people, we discover our shared experiences. These, allied to the offer of more formal external advice, such as up to date CV style, means that we remind ourselves that we are still relevant to the employment market, and more importantly valuable people.
We have been running for almost a year now and meet at St Augustine’s Church, Summers Street, Swindon, on Tuesday’s from noon to 2.00pm. Please come and join us, as we are always losing members – they get jobs! For further details please contact Revd Angela Overton-Benge on 01793 491454 or angela a_t ccisr d_o_t org d_o_t uk
CCS Adoption (Clifton Children’s Society) is a faith based adoption agency recently inspected by Ofsted (available on the Ofsted website ref number SC048462) who were found to be offering an outstanding service in all areas to the children and families with whom they work.
Adoption is a vital service for those children in public care who are not able to stay safely with their family of origin. At any one time there are about 4000 children in the UK waiting for families.
It is important to find permanent families through adoption for these children who will have missed out on many aspects of stable family life and need parents who can help them overcome emotional, physical and/or learning difficulties so they reach their full potential as adults.
The staff at CCS are keen to talk with anyone who may wish to explore the possibility of becoming an adoptive parent.
An adoptive parent told Ofsted that “CCS staff are highly trained, maintaining professionalism with everyone they engage with. CCS is a fantastic agency”.
A particular concern at the present time is the number of groups of brothers and sisters in public care who ideally need to stay together when placed for adoption. CCS Adoption is acknowledged as having special expertise in placing groups of 2, 3 or 4 children and have contributed to research undertaken by The Hadley Centre at the University of Bristol, which will be used to write “a good practice guide”.
For anyone considering the possibility of adopting children CCS Adoption is an excellent place to get sound information, and the opportunity for a realistic, professional friendly discussion. Further information is available through the website www.ccsadoption.org
or by phoning 08451 220077.
“We are born to help one another”
(Bristol Alcoholism Recovery Service) is a not for profit organisation committed to providing treatment and substance abuse education to any person suffering from addiction who has the desire to get well, notwithstanding their financial capacity or ability to pay for services.
They work with some of the most vulnerable people; the homeless, single parents, people who have no means to pay for our services that are desperately needed. means to pay for our services that are needed.
“A truly dynamic programme, tried and tested over many years, saves lives!”
Adrian Rooke, Senior Councillor, Broadway Lodge
“I attended the programme as I manage four recovery houses, supporting 31 vulnerable men and women in recovery. The people we house are offenders or at risk of offending. Such people are rarely able to access treatment facilities and there is a great need for a community-based treatment programme, free of charge, such as yours. My very best wishes for the service you are providing to those who otherwise might continue to suffer (and inflict suffering on others).” Jackie Hearne, Trustee, St Vincent’s, 57 Manor Park, Bristol.
“For all keystones, there is a requirement for a steel rod and that has been the Recovery Dynamics Programme given freely to me by Serenity House.” Mark McD, recovered alcoholic/addict, Bristol.
Serenity House have many more testimonials from the BSDAS, BRI, Crisis Centre, The Junction, and many more, which confirm the effectiveness of the programme and the positive changes experienced by the clients.
Serenity House are asking for donations for their essential work to help them to reach out to meet the needs of more vulnerable people suffering,
If you would like to donate, please visit the link below.
You can donate a minimum of £5 to Serenity House as easy as a click on the link below, and don’t forget £5 from you is £6.41 towards our unique Service thanks to Gift Aid.
Tell all your friends!