CA in Attercliffe & Darnall
Attercliffe and Darnall are two areas in Sheffield, England. The former is an industrial area while the latter is a more residential area. Both areas have a history of being deprived and isolated. In recent years, there has been an increase in poverty and social needs in both areas. With a diverse population of around 10,000, unemployment is unusually high, and there are few opportunities for young people. Crime rates are also relatively high and 1 in 3 children in both areas are living in households with an income below the poverty line.
In 2020, during the first waves of COVID-19 and the lockdowns in England, husband and wife team Gina and Kinder Kalsi took on the tremendous challenge of leading the newly planted Attercliffe & Darnall Centre of Mission and during those years planted deep roots for hope and change among the local communities.
Together on Mission
Kinder says ‘ Working together felt like a clear calling from God for us but where that would be and in what capacity wasn’t quite so clear. After praying and listening to God and several signs, it became clear that we were meant to take up the challenge of beginning to grow a Centre of Mission in Attercliffe and Darnall, creating an impact on the local community. The area is an industrial suburb in the northeast area of Sheffield and has a diverse range of people from all kinds of faith backgrounds and nationalities. We felt like we had come home.
But the transition into our new roles would be more challenging than we ever expected as just two weeks after starting COVID hit. Furlough felt inevitable and that our work in the community would be put on hold indefinitely since it seemed almost impossible to make new connections with people under the restrictions. However, with the daring and trusting support of Church Army, it seemed God had other ideas and used the pandemic as an opportunity to open doors, quite literally! Instead of shutting everything down, we decided to have faith that, guided by God, no matter what the situation, we could make a positive impact.
I received an unexpected phone call from Roses Bakers who had a surplus of food at the end of each day, to ask if I’d be interested in taking it? Having no links in the community we decided to take a brave step and knock on doors to offer the food. It was a step lead by faith, not knowing how it would be received in the local community. Some people said no but soon people began to trust us, and 18 months later we have a thriving network of people who can contact us about food.’
Gina says ‘One of the important things to recognise in this initiative is that it wasn’t so much about the food itself but more about the contact it created with people. The sharing of the bread lead to conversations on doorsteps, relationships beginning between Kinder, me and the community. In the face of such adversity we had created a doorstep ministry.
Since the lockdown restrictions were lifted and people began meeting together in person, the ministry has grown into a firm foundation throughout the community, where trusting relationships have formed. A network of connections has developed through the sharing of food with one lady sharing the food with her entire street. Another lady delivers to lots of neighbours close by and it has opened up a real sense of togetherness. It is not a donation initiative but a sharing one where everyone is equal, it is a blessing to be shared and encourages others to adopt a sharing attitude. We are now known locally as the ‘bread people’ and it allows us to engage more easily within the local community, people are open to talk about our ministry and mission to create a new Christian community. People understand that we are sharing to show that each person is loved by God and we wish for everyone to feel the love of Christ. Kinder often tells people that the bread he gives them will only last a day, but the bread Jesus provides is for a lifetime. ‘
Prayers in Focus
- Pray for plans to develop a regular after school club.
- Pray for people to join us in the monastic rhythm of rest, prayer, play, hospitality and worship.
- Pray for more people to discover the love of Jesus for themselves and for Him to make a difference in their lives.
- Pray for a deepening sense of a community in Attercliffe and Darnall.
- Pray for local churches to be empowered and encouraged to share the love of Jesus locally.