I’ve written before about how the relationship between UK churches and their local communities have been growing and changing over the last few years. It’s been really exciting to be able to be a part of that through Tearfund and The Cinnamon Network.
For the last eighteen months we’ve been able to support the growth of these relationships through a grant from the government’s Social Action Fund. We’ve run workshops and engagement forums, helped new social action projects grow and spread by providing coaching and financial support, and we’ve been able to help 300 churches set up a project that will help meet the needs of their own local community by providing them with £2000 to get them started.
The infographic on the right gives a little bit of impact into what the initial grant of £1,203,000 has yielded. (Click on the image to get it full sized!)
Of course, the impact is not all about the numbers – it’s about the lives and the communities that have seen change and begun to flourish as a result of this work. These are just some snippets from the reports that we get back:
“A gentleman on probation needed to choose between paying a deposit on a flat and eating. He paid the deposit and we were able to give him a food parcel to see him through until his benefits were sorted. He was so grateful that the foodbank existed and said “I had a difficult decision to make do I pay the deposit and starve or eat and remain homeless? The foodbank has allowed me to pay my deposit and not go hungry.”
“‘Michael and Samantha’ were afraid they would lose their house, argued about money, and felt embarrassed about getting help. Being asked to cut up their credit card felt like losing a lifeline, and the new budget CAP set for them was challenging. Yet, they worked hard and stuck to it. In just 16 months they became debt free, were still in their home, were still married, and were looking forward to a debt-free new year.”
“TLG have provided invaluable support to one of our year 10 students to a point where we are confident that we have avoided what could have become a permanent exclusion. All staff are friendly, build excellent relationships with all involved and provide a structured environment for young people to work and flourish.”
It’s hearing those stories that really makes me rejoice – because these are people, not just numbers and statistics – people whose lives are better than they were a year ago.
And what’s really great is that this isn’t going to end here. We’ve just been granted another £500,000 amount to continue this work into 2015! This means that we can help another 200 churches set up a projects – offering advice and funding – and also that we can continue hosting forums to help sustain and develop those already at work in their community. Applications for these are going to open before the end of the year – and all the information will be on Tearfund’s website. Keep an eye on my twitter feed for an announcement.