Called to Love
Donate now to fight poverty and help share faith
Called to Love
Throughout Lent we are running a weekly series looking at how we are responding to our call to be a light of peace, counsel, and justice to the oppressed.
CALLED TO LOVE
We know that the greatest calling as a Christian is to love. But we also know that choosing to love is hard.
Love is messy, challenging, demanding, sacrificial, and always comes with a cost.
Yet we choose to go where others fail to reach and we choose to love the ones who repeatedly make the same mistakes.
We are committed to unconditional love in action, which isn’t about results or success stories, but about people experiencing acceptance, wholeness, and hope.
Read the stories of how Church Army are lovingly serving communities in 2023.
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.
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
We know that those outside traditional church communities are rather unlikely to simply walk in to a church one day and hear the word of God.
The people of God must move towards them.
Our founder, Wilson Carlile, devoted his life to the slums of London, and to the ordinary working people who considered church the “resorts of the well-to-do”. His heart cry was, “I am still going for the most lost.”
Evangelism is for those out there, far away from our church buildings and our liturgy.
So, for 140 years we’ve been equipping anyone, anywhere, to confidently share their faith. Our training is free, allowing people, whatever their circumstances, to respond to the call of God in their lives and ‘go for the most lost’.
Read the stories of how Church Army are being a light to this world in 2023.
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
Everyone is feeling the pinch. With the average price of bread having gone up 30p a loaf, we’re all taking a deep breath when calculating the shopping bill.
But we know it’s the poorest people in society, who already struggle to afford nutritious food, who will be hit hardest.
Food is a core human need, but it’s also necessary for connection, dignity, and well-being. When Jesus met people, he did so round a table, sharing together.
“You know eating has somehow become a private activity. It’s not. It’s supposed to be a social activity.” – Gerry Dillon, Fife Centre of Mission
We have 27 centres of mission actively standing against food poverty and social isolation in their communities, providing welcoming spaces for people to receive good food, share together and build meaningful relationships.
Last year we provided 23,700 meals for those in times of real need, but as the cost-of-living crisis deepens, our projects are recording a 30-50% increase in requests for help.
Read the stories of how Church Army are being a light in the face of poverty in 2023.
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
It is believed more than one in five adults living in the UK will experience financial insecurity in 2023. The current cost of living crisis and the aftermath of the pandemic means rising poverty and worsening mental health are leaving more people feeling isolated and alone.
Throughout this Lent series we are considering our call to bring hope and relief to the most vulnerable across the UK and Ireland.
This week we are reflecting on how Church Army is walking alongside those living on the edge of society.
Vulnerable people are considered by society to have little to no importance, influence, or power. They might be affected by issues such as addiction, discrimination, domestic abuse, homelessness, social isolation, poverty, being displaced as refugees, or are ex-offenders.
And as the cost-of-living crisis spirals, addiction is rising, poverty is biting harder, and the margins are only getting wider.
“A service often treats the symptoms, not the person. We value each person we meet as an individual, whose life can be changed.” Stephen Ramshaw, Sheffield Centre of Mission
For 140 years we have been going to the people and the places most of society ignores.
Read the stories of how Church Army are being light in the margins in 2023.
📍 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
📍 Ballina 🇮🇪
Where I work, I encounter one human story after another, hearing tales of suffering bigger than most people can humanly bear.
The women that I listen to – many of them married young and have histories of physical and sexual abuse. Others have experienced violence and are left with young families to raise alone. Many struggle with addiction because it’s what’s normal to them – and these are the ones God has brought me near to. They are some of the most beautiful souls in this town.
My job is to create a place of welcome, where these women can receive genuine friendship, care, and faith. We share our stories and discover that suffering comes to everybody. One woman I work with, her story is so hard, she has experienced so much loss, I call her a “wounded healer”, because that’s what we do here, we help each other along in our woundedness.
Marian Edwards, Ballina 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
In this first week we are reflecting on how Church Army is tackling financial hardship and meeting essential needs of the most vulnerable across the UK and Ireland.
We know that this crisis is not fair. In these dark days, the hardest hit will be those already experiencing financial insecurity.
Our network of evangelists work in places experiencing significant hardship and deprivation. Across the UK and Ireland we have 230 trained evangelists and 33 centres of mission combatting the unique needs within their areas.
Read the stories of how Church Army are being light in dark places in 2023.
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