Community services in a time of austerity
Actively supporting parishes, groups of parishes and faith groups (ecumenical and inter-faith) in their engagement with their local communities took on even further importance last year as the Bishop's mission strategy took place.
Throughout the year the Communities Engagement Team (CET) has been actively supporting parishes, groups of parishes and faith groups (ecumenical and inter-faith) in their engagement with their local communities. The impact which our new carers’ adviser has made speaks to the heart of what we are trying to achieve: being inclusive, neighbourly, supporting the vulnerable, etc. The churches’ involvement supporting our neighbours in the light of ageing populations and austere funding circumstances is much appreciated and welcomed as what the Church does! The Church cares and is ever present - we continue what we start, which builds trust and hope.
The health and wellbeing of our communities across the diocese is reflected in the many parishes requesting awareness talks on what keeps us well, mental health, addiction, domestic abuse, and ‘Mindfulness’ (stress reduction), for which there is phenomenal demand. No matter who you are or where you live, today’s world is demanding. Keeping ourselves well enables us to keep others well too. These are matters of spiritual maturity and the services we provide are offered from a Christian perspective, bringing tangible hope as part of diocesan mission.
More on the wide range of work we undertake with parishes and in the name of the diocese (including formal links with neighbouring dioceses) can be found on the diocesan website - there isn’t space to celebrate all of it in this report. However to summarise, during 2015 CET linked with 165 parishes (some more than once). The activities included: 'Hear Here' (53 parishes), Carers Support (24 parishes), Families Matter, Neighbourhood Angels, talks and training (59 parishes). 176 volunteers have been trained and are engaged in a range of outreach projects from being an Appropriate Adult, interviewing runaway children, mentoring young people and families to servicing hearing aids. In total we have supported 4,667 people and families.
This work is recognised and valued too: grants of £482,327 were received during the year from external sources which swelled by 250% what is contributed from parish share to support this work. This is real recognition of the value placed on the work of the Church, which has become even more important during a time of austerity.