Words cannot express our gratitude for your support of our Lent Appeal, enabling our social action projects and helping train those who deliver them.
Though we’re all feeling the pinch, we know the most vulnerable are disproportionately affected. Your kindness helps us address these increased needs, whether by providing accommodation to homeless young people in Cardiff; supporting our Waterways Chaplains in offering pastoral and practical help to those living around our rivers and canals; or enabling our partners in North Belfast to provide 45-50 Moses basket packs to families each month. It all helps! For more on how your generosity transforms lives, read the stories below or click the button below to watch some of our thank you videos.Click here to watch our Thank You videos
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See how we’re Light in Dark Places
CALLED BEYOND WALLS
📍 Greenwich, ENGLAND 🏴
The main challenges facing these young people are knife crime, drugs, and gang violence.
The two murder victims we had last November, were from different sides of a postcode war, though one wasn’t associated with a gang at all became collateral damage. I was asked by his mum to join with the celebrants and take the funeral service, and I read the eulogy. They didn’t want a lot of ‘God’ in the service, or the vicar, but as I was one of them, raised here on this estate, they wanted me to do it.
One of our other boys, in youth club, was a witness and saw the whole thing, and we’ve supported and sought counselling for him. We also invested in some bleed out kits and have been distributing those and training the local pubs, clubs, and schools on how use them in the event someone is stabbed.
It’s difficult for these young people, they could be the fourth or fifth generation of their families living here. And most of these kids don’t know who or how to trust. By 7pm on a Friday night their parents could be either high or drunk and don’t even know their kids are out of the house, let alone with us in youth club.
Educational attainment is poor, there’s very little local employment, there hasn’t been acceptance or support at home, and those in gangs are making serious money each week and walking around in the latest trainers. It’s hard to compete with that.
But I see God at work here. Particularly when one of our young people comes back, like a young man who came to me three weeks ago and said, ‘Karen, I’m on my way home but wanted to show you this before I show my Nan,’ and it was his first car.
This was a boy who had lost his one parent, and we saw him through a really difficult time. And to tell you he was one of those kids I will never forget is an understatement, he caused some real issues, but we persevered, and we persevered, and we persevered.
For me, when one of them stays out of prison, stays alive, stays off drugs, and ends up buying himself a car and being in a job, it’s like ‘rejoice’, absolute joy!
Karen Saunders, Abbey Wood, Greenwich Centre of Mission
📍 Hawick, Scotland 🏴
Hawick (pronounced Hoick) feels completely cut off. Most people speed up the M74 and think they’ve only hit Scotland when they get to Edinburgh. And people feel that isolation, they feel abandoned – even our hospital is two bus rides away.
People can go the whole week, almost live their entire lives, and not go outside of our estate. It’s ground down poor; you see cars on the street that don’t move because they need a repair – there’s one across the road from us that hasn’t moved in a year.
When I told people I lived here, there was this sharp intake of breath and, ‘ooh, what do you want to live there for?’
I’m the first Minister to have lived on the estate in at least twenty years!
But we wanted to be here, to be good residents, to walk the streets with our dog, say hi to our neighbours, and make relationships. And it makes a difference. People have come to faith just by us being here.
One lady, we only got to know because she was living four doors up the street, asked if we could Christen her baby. In the end both she and her baby were baptised. Now, some of her friends are enquiring about baptism as well!
We’ve been making real relationships, supporting people in crisis, and inviting them into community. Our vision is to set up a Church on the High Street and turn a dilapidated old shop into something special.
Bringing a bit of love back into one of the most deprived places in a forgotten corner of the Borders.
Tim Hatton, A7 Centre of Mission
📍 Suffolk, England 🏴
Young people already know about social action, probably a lot more than the church does because we focus a lot on what we believe, rather than necessarily what we do, whereas they would say social action is more important than anything else.
So, I think, how do we build a relationship with the Revolutionary God when they’re already Revolutionary?
I want our young people to experience that shift in perspective that only encountering God can give. We’ve started praying with one another and practicing some spiritual exercises, encouraging them to engage with the Other, with the spiritual, rather than just the knowledge of who He is.
None of the kids are from faith backgrounds except maybe one, and my daughter. At first many were quite anti-Christian, even in our youth group.
One girl, put this song on the karaoke machine that we have, and they were all singing along to these lyrics about ending up on your knees in a leash at church. I had to ask them if that’s how they see us, as Christian youth leaders, and they responded, ‘oh no, you’re different,’ but we could see there was a journey to take.
Last week, we discovered the same girl, who has become so much more supportive of what we’re doing, at the front of the church behind the altar, praying with another girl.
Instead of sneaking off to do something they shouldn’t, or because they were bored, they had found a quiet space to pray together.
It was beautiful.
James Hawksworth, Suffolk Centre of Mission
RUSSIAN BOMBS and BIBLES
📍 Sligo, Ireland🇮🇪
Our church meets in a shop front on a terraced street in an area designated as being of high social deprivation. It’s a vibrant local community. If we were in Northern Ireland, we could get a grant for being an interface area! (former area of violence during the troubles).
Drug dealers live close to our premises and their kids are often on the streets. They kind of tortured us at the beginning, but as we exercised kindness, we’ve started to build good relationships – some of the kids even come to our things now.
We’re quite small and we take time to make our gatherings as welcoming as they can be. We have some Ukrainian refugees attend our church. At first, we translated everything into Ukrainian but slowly realised that though they spoke Ukrainian, they mainly read Russian, and so we changed our slides into Russian and moved our own translation into the New Living Translation because there’s an NLT in Russian and we wanted everyone to be reading the same.
One of our ladies came to us through finding us on Facebook. She struggles a lot with her mental health and is heavily medicated. At first, she couldn’t even speak to us.
She has been coming now for three months, and about four weeks ago, she got to the point of talking with us and drinking tea; I think her meds have been reduced a tiny little bit, so she’s clearer. Recently, she even offered to do our reading, which she performed with gusto!
It’s now become a thing that she reads our bible passage, because it is obvious how much she enjoys doing so, and how it brings her alive.
We know this community is bringing her out of her shell and helping her re-discover herself and what she can do.
Alan Williamson, Sligo Centre of Mission
ViolenT & AGGRESIVE
📍 Rochdale, England🏴
The very first thing I felt is a huge amount of compassion for the kids running around on the street, being exposed to all kinds of things, wrong things.
My heart is with them. I want to see them being loved by Jesus and how Jesus’ love can bring hope and transformation. And when they are hurting, especially the kids and young people, they are so vulnerable, I feel God’s heart is broken.
One kid, I’ll call him Charles*, came to our football club with such strong anger issues, you could tell from his face, that he was always unhappy. I was told that he kept getting into trouble at school for aggressive behaviour like kicking the doors and fighting with others.
Last summer, on tournament day at football camp, he got into a fight with someone from the other team. As we were trying to get him cool down and shake hands, he walked off swearing with F-words all over the place. But his team members called him back. So, with a very twisted face, he forced himself to reach out and shake hands with the person.
When it came to giving out trophies, I felt to give the one for best team player to Charles. But he was sat down 30 yards away, facing the other way. I shouted out his name and with surprise he stood up and came to me, and on the way his team members cheered him on.
I think there must have been a lot of negative stuff spoken over him, and I wanted to break that.
I felt I needed to speak into his life, so I looked him in the eye and said, “Charles, today marked the day that you have chosen the better way; you have overcome yourself, the urge to fight back, for your team’s sake. In the future you are going to meet challenges but remember that you can always choose a better way and you will be a success in life.”
A few weeks back, I was in the gym and saw someone walking towards me, and it was Charles. Before, he was so angry he wouldn’t have greeted anyone, but he walked up to me and shook my hand. At that moment I knew God had left something in his life.
Bing Liu, Rochdale Centre of Mission
Self-Esteem & Body Image
📍 Newry, NI 🇬🇧
My inspiration for pursuing health for myself and for young people came from a personal tragedy when my uncle died of a heart attack at just 44. I’ve since been using my own healthy heart fitness programme called ‘Life Guards’ to work with children of all ages in schools across Northern Ireland. It’s based on Proverbs 4.23 which says ‘Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.’
My motivation is to see these young people learn to care for their hearts; emotionally and spiritually, and to look after their bodies and minds.
A lot of us are becoming increasingly sedentary, and particularly after COVID, so many kids were permanently fixed to screens, not going out, not meeting people. This inspired us to launch our Kids & Youth Gym in Newry and we currently have 70 kids registered and coming regularly on Thursday evenings. Nearly all the kids have met connected with us in schools through the Healthy Heart programme.
We call it ‘Life Guards’ because it’s about taking responsibility for our own lives and choices. It’s about so much more than achieving physical fitness, we want to inspire them to be fit for life.
Kids face a lot of pressures. Some have significant challenges with their self-esteem, body image, eating disorders, lack of confidence…
We come alongside these young people and help them set SMART targets and equip and empower them to achieve these goals. One of the things you’ll hear us say is, ‘a bad attitude is like a flat tyre, you can’t get anywhere unless you change it.’
Now about 15 young people, met through the work in schools and the gym, come to our Youth Church on a Sunday evening.
We’re about more than being physically fit. We want them to discover where to find value, identity, and purpose, and to live their lives through that.
Laurence Bellew, Newry Centre of Mission
CALLED TO LOVE
📍 Cross Hands, WALES 🏴
It was during the pandemic when we first came to Wales, so things were tough. We were a family with young children coming to a new area, a new country with no friends, no family network, and a new role of Lead evangelist to continue with the vision for Cross Hands centre of mission.
Our Centre of Mission is behind the cinema in Cross Hands, and in our centre, we have lots of different groups that reflect our community. For some people, these activities are the only thing they’re coming out to in the week.
Our space is very active, often chaotic, and welcoming, and we will love you.
We’ve experienced loss here. When I first came, I met a lovely lady my age with kids, and we connected straight away and became close friends. God called me to her.
But she died at Christmas, leaving her family behind. I officiated her funeral, and I thought if it’s just for her that we’re here or for her family, that is enough.
I serve our community with Michelle Lloyd (pioneer evangelist), and we both feel it is a privilege to be here and to walk with people through the different seasons of life. Whether this is through their joys or sadness, we are with them, loving each one of them deeply.
The community see something in us. Through Jesus, they see and know they can come to us because they feel loved.
People seeing your heart and feeling loved when they’re feeling at their worst and there’s nothing left is humbling. And in those moments, they say, ‘we know we can go to Impact 242’.
Esther Lockley, Cross Hands Centre of Mission
Cross Hands is one of three Centres of mission in Impact 242 in partnership between the Church Army and the Diocese of St David’s, Church in Wales.
LovING EX-Young OFFENDERS
📍 Greenwich, London 🏴
For us, the foundation of our work is 1 Corinthians 13 – persevering love. What draws gang members in – and they’re mostly damaged and hurting young people – is they’re looking for love and acceptance. Love is the only thing that can give damaged children hope.
These young lives have never had affirmation, they’ve only experienced rejection.
So, we do relational youth work, and our attitude is unconditional love – which they know they need and are drawn to. Yes, they can be quite violent young people, but we don’t reject them, and for that, they give us their loyalty.
Those who do come through, they begin to engage with more life, get jobs, choose a different path away from gangs. When I’ve met them years later, I can see the gratitude in those tough lives.
Lives lived without hope until they met a Christian youth worker who persevered past the damage.
We have a lad now, who was on the path to become a drug dealer and now he’s an apprentice on a construction site. Two of our current youth workers came back to us after they were both in jail. One was in and out from the age of 15, and we kept persevering with him.
He’s our third young offender we’ve been able to employ as a youth worker.
The thing that makes the difference, with these kids in gangs, is how long you stick at it. They see that, and they remember it.
Nick Russell, Greenwich Centre of Mission
LOVING THE VULNERABLe
📍 Chatham, England 🏴
Part of our calling to Medway is to parent those who haven’t been parented. Many people call my husband and I, dad and mum, because our friends have not been loved, but they know we love them.
I believe if you come from a basis of knowing you’re loved, you can achieve mighty things. But our folk haven’t had that.
Many of the young adults I work alongside are around the age of my children, in their 20s and 30s. I see the difference between who my children are and the life chances they’ve had, compared with the life chances that others haven’t. I’ve become a lot more understanding, rather than judgemental.
My passion is for the vulnerably housed, mostly in accommodation of some sort, though it’s often very basic and temporary. Most of them have gone through the care system, suffer with their mental health, and have issues with alcohol or drug dependency.
I say to them, ‘Yes your life has been rubbish so far, but it doesn’t have to be rubbish forever, how can we stop it being that?’, in particular through talking about Jesus and the difference he can make.
Last year, in September we had 10 baptisms and reaffirmations of baptismal vows, and it occurred to us that 8 of them met us through initiatives run by Church Army; they wouldn’t be with us otherwise.
There are those who have no-where else to go except to us. In this relatively small area, the needs are immense.
Helen Kiralfy, Medway Centre of Mission
Loving CHAOTIC Families
📍 Southampton, England 🏴
A lot of what I do is supporting single mums, many of whom have been in abusive relationships and struggle with their self-worth. I work together with Safe Families supporting many of our parents to take care of their children’s needs, to help keep these precious families together.
There’s a mum who we’ve been working alongside for years. I remember the first time she allowed us into her house, which was such an act of trust, and it was horrendous. It was cluttered, dirty, piles of clothes everywhere, dirty dishes on every surface of every room, leaking toilet and smelly.
We went in to clean and support her, but it kept going backwards. At first, we were supporting her to get it into a manageable place which she could maintain. We had a rota of people she trusted to check up on her and assisted her to get into a routine. Sometimes, she’d even take us on a tour of her house by video call.
But in the end, it was all too little, too late, for her to keep her children.
The house is so much better than it was. With no previous knowledge of the situation, most people would be shocked to go into it now, but we can clearly see the difference she has made. She is a carer to her long-term partner who has mental health issues, and it was obvious that she had never been taught how to look after a house.
For me, it’s important that she knows she’s still loved even when social services, by removing her children, have made her feel completely useless.
That even when she’s failed to do what’s been asked of her, we still love her. It breaks my heart, but we’re in this for the long haul, without judgement.
Ruth Hills, Southampton Centre of Mission
Loving THrough Addicition
📍 Dundee, Scotland 🏴
One guy, I’ve always known on the streets, had lived a very violent life. When I first knew him, he was in a partnership with a woman who prostituted herself to feed both their drug habits. They’d sold everything they had, down to the light bulbs.
Sometime later, this man came with me to an Alpha weekend retreat, and he encountered God and gave his life to Christ. But then he went back to that awful flat, his past life, fell off the wagon, and ended up stabbing someone and in prison.
We continued to support him, and he got clean – he became the poster boy for recovery – but out of prison, he fell of the wagon again, broke his parole and had to go back.
The reality is we’re called to keep loving and keep on supporting.
Recovery isn’t a straight line. People may fall 90 times before they can keep standing. But we remain committed to everyone in our recovery group, even to death.
This man is off drugs again now and we continue to walk alongside him. We don’t expect it to be a smooth journey, but we don’t give up.
Kerry Dixon, Dundee Centre of Mission
Loving The Community
📍 Haverfordwest, Wales 🏴
We specifically don’t have a building here because we wanted to push ourselves to go to where the people were, rather than having them come to us.
Our job is two-fold, to create a fresh expression of faith here at Merlin’s Bridge, but also to promote community, wholeness, and wellbeing. We’re trying to create structures where connection, friendship, and family can grow, and then inviting people to take the next step towards Jesus in that.
I want to see people healthier and more whole, without strings attached. Though I genuinely believe Jesus is the best antidote for someone’s wellbeing, my only agenda is to see people become the best version of themselves, and so if they don’t want to step closer to Jesus, that’s OK, I will still love and serve them.
Who doesn’t have a wellbeing need today?
I think all of us, because of the crazy couple of years we’ve had, have had our mental and emotional health affected in some way.
We focus on showing people that we love and care about them, that we’re committed to them, and that we’re going to walk alongside them in their journey, no matter what they choose to do.
One guy started coming to our community drop-in after a relationship breakdown.
He said that he was ready to end everything. But the drop-in gave him a safe place to be, something to look forward to each week, and he made a circle of friends there.
Recently he told us that if he hadn’t have met Mike [Dare] and I, he didn’t think he’d still be here. But now he says he is enjoying his life, that he likes living here, and that life is good.
Celine Cuddihy, Haverfordwest Centre of Mission
Haverfordwest is one of three Centres of Mission in Impact 242, a partnership between Church Army and the Diocese of St David’s, Church in Wales.
CALLED TO THE PEOPLE
📍 St DaVID’s, Wales 🏴
I see that everywhere I go, people are wanting to belong to a family and actually there is no family more attractive than the family of God. Church is about family, it’s about belonging, it’s about being loved, seen, and known and then knowing God.
I think I’m most excited about the hunger that I see and feel, especially in young adults – the age gap that often slips through the cracks; 18-35yrs old.
There is this hunger, wanting something that is real and authentic, hungering for family and for belonging, and a real openness to God.
We were running our wellbeing drop-in at the college a couple weeks ago, and these young people are not from Christian backgrounds at all, like I don’t think we’ve had any Christians come to us yet. From the moment we sat down, to the moment we got up, people came to our table wanting to know about Jesus – every single one of them! That’s not a normal day at the college, we often don’t get to offer prayer as they’re not always open for that, but this time we prayed for every young person that came to us. It was just amazing, everybody wanted to talk about Jesus.
Everybody’s different and I thought I wasn’t an evangelist for years because I thought I had to look like the guy that was on stage kind of shouting at people, and that’s not me at all. But I think everybody wants a King like Jesus, they just don’t know it. So, because I really believe that, it took the fear away of speaking to people.
Celine Cuddihy, Haverfordwest Centre of Mission
Haverfordwest is one of three Centres of Mission in Impact 242, a partnership between Church Army and the Diocese of St David’s, Church in Wales.
REACHING GEN Z
📍 21 x Missional Youth Churches 🏴
Our aim is to equip youth leaders to be a bridge between our relational God and this generation. The lack of young people in churches of any kind was an alarm bell. Over half of our churches now have 5 or fewer under 16s. We needed to find ways to bridge the cultural gap and connect the unchanging gospel with their lives.
Generation Z (those born between the late 90s and 2010s) are the first ever generation in our nations to be non-churched – that is, to have no understanding or experience of church or what it means to be a Christian.
We found that youth leaders are desperately seeking to bring young people into church but that there is a real lack of confidence in how to engage with those outside of any kind of church experience.
Incredibly, in just four years, the Missional Youth Church Network has grown to 21 Missional Youth Churches (MYCs), and actively supports 31 youth leaders, across the UK and Ireland.
Our training supports leaders to reimagine the church for young people. To create community with them – not simply expecting them to come and “fit in”, but to go towards them, and grow a Christian community alongside them.
In just one of our MYC’s, 10 girls came to faith recently and this is genuinely amazing!
Andy Milne, Church Army Evangelist & Director of MYCN
MYCN is an initiative of 3 founding partners: the Archbishop of York’s Office, Church Army, & the Archbishop of York’s Youth Trust (now the Young Leaders Award). For more information please visit: www.mycn.org.uk
Questions of Faith
📍 Faith Resources 🗣️
We want to see everyone, everywhere, motivated, equipped, and resourced to confidently share their faith in a way that they are comfortable with – and that is what our suite of Faith Resources has been designed to do.
These resources were created to be super accessible; whether on day 1 on your Christian journey, or decades in, our video courses are designed to help anyone explore evangelism in a straightforward way.
Each part of the Faith Suite has its own aim:
Faith Pictures looks to assist individuals to explore their journey of faith and help them share that journey with others.
Faith Shared is about helping Churches to see where and how they can connect with the communities around them.
Faith Empowered is for those exploring evangelism in more depth, who are keen to take on some leadership in that area.
Faith Questions is designed to help us think about the difficult questions of faith, but using a relational approach, avoiding the back and forth debating most people are nervous of.
“I continue to be amazed by how easy I find it now to share my faith with others using my Faith Picture.
Having a personal analogy that makes it easier for people to relate to has transformed the way I share my faith and consequently people’s understanding of faith.”
– Faith Pictures participant
It’s exciting to be launching Faith Questions soon, and to keep developing these resources to stay useful and relevant, enabling people to feel able to share their faith with those around them.
Jonny Price, Church Resource Officer
To access the suite of free Faith Resources please click here.
Contemporary Evangelism Training
📍 Ireland 🇮🇪
I’m in my third year with Church Army as an Evangelist-in-Training (EiT) and the training is excellent; the level that Durham University and Church Army are taking us to is way beyond anything else I’ve received, and it’s super relevant. All the time we’re being empowered to bring our learning back to our context and have a go.
Often training is very academic and can become exclusive and many people struggle to access it, because of that. I believe we need a much more practical approach. For me, the practical side of Church Army training is so key. We’re not learning in a vacuum.
The training we receive is current and contemporary, and there’s a willingness to adapt; to listen to the student voice, and to keep the course as relevant as it possibly can be.
The fact that Church Army covers the costs is amazing because it means that it’s accessible – whatever your background, wherever you are, the training is doable because of that support.
It breaks down barriers because if you think about the sort of people who end up doing clergy training, they are a particular type, whereas the mix of folk that we have on the Church Army course is so diverse. I’m sure there are people that couldn’t do that without Church Army support. We are really blessed.
Steve Grasham, Church Army Evangelist-in-Training
Worldwide Evangelism Coaching
We have almost 100 participants this year on our 24-week coaching plan to mobilise Christians in evangelism wherever they are. Participants hail from all over – from the UK, Ireland, Germany, Spain, and Canada. It’s exciting for us to see so many Christians every year step into their evangelism.
Typically, evangelism training is focused on developing skills in people. There aren’t a lot of evangelistic resources geared towards activating evangelism right away and supporting people as they step out in their own environments.
We offer a step-by-step coaching community that provides a scaffold for the participant to flesh out; guided by the Holy Spirit and in community with other Christians.
Envoy coaches participants to figure out what God wants them to do in their community with the unique gifts He has given them.
We don’t prescribe anything or think there is only one way of doing things.
“I’ve done evangelism courses in the past, but Envoy is different – it gets you thinking about the real world. In a church setting, things can sometimes be a bit formal. But when outside, feeling out of our comfort zone… that’s when Envoy becomes important. Envoy has taught me how to share Jesus with people, to invite them to ‘come and see’ what Jesus can do in their lives. I’ve been able to think about how I can take what I’ve learnt from Envoy into the world with me and show people that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.” Feedback from a participant.
Emma Taylor, Envoy Evangelism Coach
For more information about Envoy please click here.
My Life as Church ARmy evangelist
📍 South East London 🏙️
I was a builder, with a young family, and a mortgage when I got the call to full-time ministry, and I thought there was no chance I could do that. But then when God wants something, you can’t turn your back on it.
For me, I knew I didn’t want to be ordained.
But I wanted to share the good news of the gospel to ordinary people.
I’m not an academic person, I’m a practical, pragmatic person, and so the training suited me where I could put into practice what I learnt from lectures. I thought the training was second-to-none. I still look back on it and I draw from it even now.
I’m now in parish ministry in Bermondsey, South East London. The vicar who approached me for the role wanted a CA officer because he really valued the work of Church Army – whether traditional parish ministry or it’s work on the fringes – it was the deep commitment and focus on evangelism that he most admired.
24 years as a commissioned evangelist has been a very positive time. Obviously, there’s been challenges but I’ve not been overwhelmed. It’s been a fulfilling experience seeing people’s lives changed and transformed, supporting people to a living faith, and growing in discipleship.
I feel there would be a gap left, that couldn’t be filled by another organisation, if Church Army wasn’t here. It is the speciality for the lost that is at the heart of Church Army. Because the lost wouldn’t hear the message; they’re out there but they’re a long way away from church, and they need us to step in and fulfil that commitment of Jesus to reach out to them.
Paul Warren, Church Army Evangelist
CALLED TO THE HUNGRY
Those who come to us are a mix of ex-offenders, recovering addicts who’ve lost their homes, the vulnerably housed and the homeless. They come to our weekly drop-in for breakfast, rounds of toast and plenty of tea and coffee.
Recently, in honour of one of our volunteers Dezzy – he was Church Army’s 2022 volunteer of the year – we set up Westcliffe Pantry. When Dezzy first came to us, he was a real lost soul, but he came back to life volunteering with us. If it hadn’t been for this place, I think we’d have lost him a long time ago.
When he passed away this year, I officiated his funeral, and the fee and collection went to purchase food and toiletries for the pantry. So, it’s Dezzy’s Pantry really. I think he would be really delighted with it!
It’s predominantly for those who come to our drop-in. They give a minimum of £5 a month and for that they get 15 points. This allows them to ‘purchase’ the items they need from the pantry.
You know, we meet some amazing people, but through one way or another, they’ve made a mistake or made a wrong turn, maybe a few wrong turns, and it’s a privilege to help bring them back.
They see what we do here as ‘real Christianity’. Some have experienced quite a bit of ‘strings-attached’ Christianity, but we don’t care who they are or where they’ve come from,
we just want them to know this is a safe place.
Claire* came to us recently out of prison. And she surprised all of us when we learnt that in the 40 years of her life, she’d never been given a birthday card. What can have happened in her life to have lived four decades and never received a birthday card, from anybody? I decided this was the year to change that and I got one sent to her.
To see her bound in, so excited that the ‘vicar’ got her a birthday card, it made everybody smile! We want people to know that the world is a far better place with them in it. We try to keep people going and build them up.
Sean Andrews, Scunthorpe Centre of Mission
TACKLING CHILD POVERTY
📍 LEEDS 🏴
Cost-of-living has been a problem. People are more needy. I get knocks on the door now for food; I’ve got packs here already made out.
We’re seeing a lot more kids at our youth club with no money even for tuck shop.
This is very new. They don’t make a scene. It’s usually my wife who notices that they haven’t come up to the shop for a while, so she’ll ask me to have a quiet word. They tell me there’s nothing spare because “we’re finding it hard with gas”, so I spout them a couple of quid and tell them to go up to the tuck shop like everyone else. It’s part of the relationship, noticing the little things, those slight changes in behaviour that tell you someone isn’t quite OK.
For the older youth, we try to provide food each week, but there’s no funding for that. We tend to cover it out of our own pockets, just to make sure they have something to eat.
Neil Obbard, Leeds Centre of Mission
TOASTIES FOR TEA
📍 DUNDEE 🏴
It’s already tough here, even without the cost-of-living crisis. Dundee holds the unenviable title of the drugs deaths capital of Scotland with the highest drug-related death rate in Europe.
Poverty and unemployment are both factors.
It’s difficult to have hope when there’s no food on the table. We’ve been running our own foodbank, clothing bank, and drop in café, for a while now.
We’re giving out about 1280 meals a week. We have some regulars but there’s always new people. Recently we had a family come; the father collapsed and died from a heart attack and left the mum with two children and no financial support until the benefits are sorted. Others are on a state pension, and with the cost of utilities they can’t cope. You know we’re northeast Scotland – we make a joke about taking our tops off when it’s 14 degrees. It’s cold, and on a pre-payment meter warmth is unaffordable.
Most of us, if we had to live on the small amounts people have, we couldn’t cope. You know, they’re not even buying from the cheaper supermarkets; dinner is microwave meals from the pound shops, or the toasties for 20p from our café.
Kerry Dixon, Dundee Centre of Mission
Investing IN FUTURES
📍 LONDON 🏴
“Food is not the same as nutrition. When I was working, I always made sure I had healthy food to eat, but now with no income and living off donations, it can be hard to find consistent fresh food and staples like bread and vegetables. However, here it is comforting to know I will not go hungry as there is always something available at the Marylebone Project.” – *Claire, Marylebone Project
Last year our women’s only hostel provided 38,072 nights of accommodation to women experiencing homelessness.
But the hope is so much more than providing a safe place to stay.
We invest in their wellbeing and offer a range of accredited and vocational courses aimed at boosting their confidence and equipping them with the skills needed to move forward with their lives.
MUNCH is part of Made in Marylebone, our social enterprise based at the project. As a corporate catering business with social action at its heart, its mission is to be an environmentally sustainable venture, whilst supporting the work of the Marylebone Project and offering opportunities for the women to gain training needed to secure employment. The women develop their cooking skills in a supported environment and are helped to make their own nutritious meals, whilst also bringing their own knowledge and creativity to the kitchen. Some of the dishes on our menu are recipes that the women have shared with us and have come from all over the world.
Fern Bain Smith, Marylebone Project
*not her real name
Standing in the gap
📍 Selby 🏴
Part of our role is coming alongside people. Sometimes, they aren’t going to naturally reach out for help, but through getting to know them, we get invited in to listen to their struggles.
There’s one woman in her late 50s who, a few times, I’ve encouraged to have a food parcel. She’s got various serious health issues, but it took two years for her to get an assessment and have her benefit entitlement confirmed. But, naturally, they don’t backdate it. So, it’s been challenging for her.
We just try to love people in the middle of the mess.
This is only one story. I’m very conscious of the increase there’s going to be.
We have a long-term plan for our community hub, which we hope to have the funding to finish by the summer, to be a place where you can pick up a food parcel but also get help with budgeting and signposting to other services.
Richard Cooke, Selby Centre of Mission
THE KING’s TABLE
📍 North Coast of Wales 🏴
We’re in a rural town between the sea and the A55 with a mixture of council flats and retirement bungalows.
People come here, maybe because they holidayed here as children, drawn to the seaside. But they end up in their little bungalow, on their own, away from children and grandchildren, living in isolation.
Every week our volunteers prepare a community meal for people. Anyone is welcome, but we do get regulars each week. It’s mostly to combat social isolation but the cost-of-living crisis is affecting people here too.
“Everything is so negative. The news, conversations; the cost-of-living crisis is hurting people. There’s not a lot of positivity going round. But this is such a good thing. It’s made my day coming here.” – Martin at The King’s Table
There is no restriction on those who can come and receive a free meal at The King’s Table.
Whether struggling with the cost-of-living or in need of a friendly smile and conversation, there are many chairs at the table, and everyone is welcome.
Jo Leslie, North Coast of Wales Centre of Mission
CALLED TO THE MARGINS
📍 Cardiff 🏴
All of the young people have come to us because they’re experiencing a housing crisis for various reasons.
They are often very damaged young people. The young people referred to us have hardly any resilience at all; their mental health is such a barrier for them, and we are having to support them through that so they can focus on the skills they need to learn to live independently.
We have young people presenting with the symptoms of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety etc. but don’t have a diagnosis yet to access support. Whilst others are mirroring the experiences of the crises around them. Perhaps, because they’ve been let down by their families, they are looking for a label from mental health services to explain away their turmoil. It can be difficult for our staff to determine what is a genuine crisis and what is a broken cry to be seen.
So, we’ve been working with our young people to put together self-care boxes – a tool to help them self-manage their mental health. The boxes may include small items, like noise-cancelling headphones, that can help them move past the dark place in their minds.
The idea is that each young person would take charge of their own box and add things to it as they build up resilience and include more strategies they find to be helpful and work for them. We’re teaching the young people that interventions don’t have to be severe but that they can develop their own coping mechanisms.
One young person came to us after weekly suicidal attempts. She’s been with us the longest out of any of her placements and has been stable for a while now. At one stage, Ty Bronna was the only service keeping her alive. She told us, “If it wasn’t for the staff here, I would be dead.”
She’s acknowledged that it’s her own mental health that’s been the hurdle to her living independently, but we are in the process of facilitating that now. We have believed in her from the start, have never said ‘enough is enough’, but kept at it.
It is difficult. We are not a mental health service, we are a homeless and housing support service, but 97% of our young people will move on, and in the past 20 years we’ve sheltered and equipped over 800 young people towards a more hopeful future.
Rachel Codd, Support Services Manager, Ty Bronna
📍 Sheffield 🏴
Every day I walk around 24,000 steps through the city centre, looking out for the people most people look past, and the police move on. They’re citizens of Sheffield but the streets are their home.
Most have chaotic lives, difficult lives, struggling with self-worth, addiction, lack of hope.
In September we started our first Recovery group. We’re the only gospel-focused recovery group in the city, supporting people to face their addiction and get free.
Working with these people isn’t clean or pretty; it requires time, and patience, a thick skin, and a tolerance for rough speaking. You can’t get offended, you’ve just got to get stuck in.
One of our lads came to the discipleship course on a Tuesday, and he kept saying he was going to turn away from his criminal activities, maybe in the New Year, but I said to him “It’s OK, Jesus will take you any time so, how about today?” It’s been amazing to see how he’s turning his life around.
Stephen Ramshaw, Sheffield City Centre of Mission
📍 HMP Prison’s ⛓️
Prison Chaplaincy is a vital service shown to reduce reoffending rates and improve prisoner health and wellbeing. For many, the relationship developed between their chaplain will be the most positive relationship they have in prison.
I find this a very privileged position to be in. Some of the prisoners have suffered abuse and are really broken. For some, the offence that sent them to prison was their last straw.
My message to them is that we can’t change what happened, but we can walk together, and support them through their next steps.
I feel blessed to be able to share with these prisoners that God loves us all. There is nothing we can do to spoil his plan, because he is more powerful than us. I want to share that message that no-one is beyond God’s love, and that though they may feel forgotten, God has not forgotten them.
Gill Martin, Church Army Evangelist and Chaplain at HM Eastwood Park. Church Army Training enabled Gill to become a Prison Chaplain, a position funded by her local Diocese.
📍 RIVERS & CANALS ⛵
Our rivers and canals are home to many different types of people. As many don’t have a fixed address, it’s difficult to open a banking account, claim any benefits, access healthcare and/or employment.
The cost-of-living crisis is pushing people towards the edge and the number of desperate cries for help is rising.
One lady contacted me saying “the only reason I haven’t killed myself is because I’m scared of what might happen to my dog. Now, I’m scared I’ll die anyway, and he’ll be trapped in the boat with my body. I’ve lost my job, I’ve no money, the engine has died and I’ve no money for paraffin for my stove. We’re waking up in ice. I can’t see where any hope is going to come from.”
Through our network, we were able to get her basic provisions, take her to a local café and collect a food parcel for her. She’s been able to get on universal credit, register with a local job centre, and we have kept in communication with her, also supporting her with repairs to her boat. She messaged me recently; “you really did help me carry on when I couldn’t see a way through! Thank you!”
Mark Chester, Waterways* Chaplain.
*Waterways Chaplaincy is an independent charity within, and partially funded through, the Church Army network. For more information, please click here.
📍 Leeds 🏴
I’m working in an area where most are third to fourth generation welfare, some with parents and siblings in prison. The young people think getting involved with gangs will make them rich, but I’m here to talk them out of that.
One person in our youth group, his mum didn’t want him – that’s the long and the short of it. He lived with his nan until social services said he couldn’t do that anymore and to go back to mum. She was with a new partner, they smashed all his stuff, she nicked his mobile phone, and he found himself sleeping rough in a supermarket café at eleven years old. Just a normal lad. He ended up living with his dad who’d he’d only seen twice before moving in. That’s the life for kids here. Their role models have been really poor.
A girl I worked with as a mentor in schools, was on her last chance. School had given up on her, she was always getting into trouble with the police, she was basically written off.
We had some frank conversations, and she was able to turn it around and finished school able to attend college. I invited her to volunteer with us, and she told me the experience changed the direction of her life.
She’s now working in schools, wanting to give back and to help steer other young people into making better choices.
Neil Obbard, Leeds Centre of Mission
Partner with us today to help those existing on the margins into places of connection and hope
CALLED TO BE LIGHT
We are asked to shine our light before others so that they may see our good works and honour our Father in heaven.
It is the mission of Church Army to want everyone everywhere to encounter God’s love and be empowered to transform their communities through faith shared in words and action.
We are committed to unconditional love through action, which has never been about results or success stories, but about people experiencing acceptance, wholeness and hope.
Like our founder, Wilson Carlile, we continue to go outside the church to embrace those in the toughest places, facing the toughest challenges.
Will you join with us today to be a light in someone’s darkest moment?
Tackling Child Poverty
📍 Wrexham 🏴
Our area is known for having some of the highest rates of child poverty in Wales, affected even more by the current cost of living crisis.
We meet many people who are struggling to keep up with the bills and feed their children. Sometimes, our work is supporting them to access the help they need, such as assisting parents with referrals to the local foodbank and picking up their parcels, if they don’t have transport.
The hot meals project has been running for several years now and continues throughout the school holidays, providing meals to people in need across the estate. Our donors helped us also provide Christmas dinners, with all the trimmings, to families we knew were finding it hard, allowing them to celebrate this special day.
Josh Smith, Wrexham Centre of Mission
the Community Pantry
📍 Fife 🏴
We are led by the community through listening to them and what they need. Everything is about food now because the people were starving.
The need is so dire we have a four-month waiting list.
Our volunteers run the Pantry and we do a hot meal for folk every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Lots of different people come to our mid-week community meal but there’s a core 30 who regularly attend. It’s a wonderful place to be – it’s about them.
One of the regulars first arrived at my door in bits, saying that over the pandemic he had become more and more isolated and was really struggling. He asked if he could talk to me, and I said, ‘Of course, but as well, why don’t you and have something to eat’? and his eyes lit up. He was worried about the cost, as he said he had no money, but I told him to just bring himself.
He grabbed me a few weeks later and said, ‘I was at the very end, I had lost all hope and just happened to come to you because I saw your door open. There you were and there this group was, and it saved me. It’s literally saved my life.’
Gerry Dillon, Central Fife Centre of Mission
When there’s nowhere else to turn
📍 Belfast 🇬🇧
Our Baby Basics Project has continued to grow with an increasing number of agencies sending in referrals.
The cost-of-living crisis has been so tough on people. I’d say there’s been a 30% increase in referrals.
One girl told us she was keeping the heating on because of the baby, but she had no idea how she was going to pay.
We offer essential items such as a Moses basket, baby bath, toiletries, nappies, clothing up to 1year, and toys for the newborn. On average we are giving out 45-50 packs a month to families in crisis (1 pack would cost £250 brand new).
We have now given out 1500 packs since we started in 2017, which is amazing!
There’s also been a big increase in refugee families and asylum seekers needing our support, and occasionally we help women rescued from trafficking as well. One young girl had been rescued one week before her baby was born. All she had was literally the clothes she was standing in. Another trafficked woman was from the Eastern Orthodox tradition and wanted her baby boy baptised but needed a completely white outfit and shawl for him, which we were able to get for her.
This isn’t just about one-off help either, if people need support, we are there for them.
The Joy in extending your tablE
📍 Gloucester 🏴
We aim to have a holistic approach to food and ministry, where we treat people with dignity and feed them well, through locally procured produce and not just with the cast-offs from supermarkets. Our hope is to inspire and enable them to grow in their self-worth and value through providing healthy and budget-friendly living skills through our slow cooker classes; through our pay-as-you-can café; and through employment, offering local jobs.
We really want to do something different here, that will help break the dependency culture, meet important local needs and help people know they are valued by God.
Through our café we supply good quality healthy food, largely from local producers, creating a circular economy whilst looking after people the best we can.
The café, which is open to anyone, is a non-judgmental space for those who are lonely, feeling isolated, have nobody to talk too, or those who are struggling to come, eat, and do some meaningful life together.
Andy Wilson, Gloucester Centre of Mission
Sharing Bread, Building Community
📍 Sheffield 🏴
Through an unexpected connection with a local bakery, we started weekly distributing their surplus bread and cake through knocking on doors and connections from local agencies in our community. Within 18 months we have a thriving ministry on the doorstep of local families and businesses.
We’ve loved getting to know our community. One lady seems to know everyone, and cares for her neighbours.
She’s always passing on what she receives to those around her – including one family where the small children love the little bread rolls for their lunch – it makes them feel posh.
It’s been amazing to connect with people and their everyday needs. There have been many practical ways to help, from sourcing essentials – like a bed, microwaves, blankets, and clothing, even Christmas gifts – as well as helping people navigate the council systems.
Another lady lost her husband suddenly and we were privileged to be invited to the wake, and to take her to collect his ashes, and to pray for her and her family. She said, “You show people who are lonely and struggling that you care. I know if I wanted you to sit with me when I’m struggling you would make time for me.”
Kinder and Gina Kalsi, Attercliffe & Darnall Centre of Mission