Here at Cinnamon, we want to help churches to transform their communities – it’s as simple as that! Holy Trinity in Ashby de la Zouch received a Cinnamon Micro-Grant back in 2016 to set up a Fresh Start (formerly CAP Release Group) that’s transforming lives across their community.
When she retired just over two years ago, Lynda Flower could have put her feet up. But when her vicar suggested she head up a new CAP Release Groupto support individuals suffering with addiction, she knew she could put her experience to good use.
“I’ve lived in the town for 40 years and know a lot of people,” says Lynda. “I’m used to working with disaffected adults and advocating on their behalf and helping them, so the course seemed to fit really well.”
Complex social issues
The church is no stranger to social action, and were already running a successful CAP Debt Centre, Money Management Course and Café. However, they realised that the needs of their clients were varied and complex and so they decided to expand their support.
A Fresh Start Group seemed like a natural fit. Dependency issues often go hand in hand with debt, and in the UK the statistics really do speak for themselves. 2.6m children live with parents who drink hazardously and the country also has the biggest drug problem in Europe.
In response, Fresh Start Groups (CAP Release) empower churches to help people break free from life controlling habits, such as drinking, smoking, gambling or internet addictions. They provide a place of trust and security, where people are offered emotional and practical support to break their dependency.
Starting a new initiative takes time, energy and finances and Cinnamon Micro-Grant funding helped Holy Trinity to get their vision off the ground. “The Micro-Grant funding gave us confidence to go ahead, to pay for the resources and training and fund the actual courses,” says Lynda.
Lynda also gathered a core team of four volunteers to help her. With the foundations in place, they promoted the programme through local pharmacies, GP surgeries, tourist information centres, CAP helpline, local churches, foodbanks, MIND and Ashby CAP services. They are so established that community liaison officers now directly refer people onto the course.
To date the church has run three coursesand the volunteers have given more than 300 hours of their time. “It’s been great to see people being given tools helping them to move forward in their own lives,” continues Lynda. “There is a real sense of achievement when someone reaches their goal.”
Every individual who comes to the course has been on a difficult journey take and it’s these personal stories of transformation that inspire the team to keep going. Lynda fondly recalls one man who took time off work to attend the course. “He would attend the course and go back and discuss with his wife. He attributed the course and support to saving his marriage,” explains Lynda.
More than a course
One of the beauties of working through the local church is that when the course finishes, the support does not. Through the CAP Café and wider activities offered by Holy Trinity, participants feel connected and supported by a broader community.
Some participants have even started coming to church regularly, including a mother who attended the course to help her daughter who suffered from drug addiction. As Lynda explains, “An unexpected outcome has been the non-addict mother who attended the course. I was a bit hesitant at first, but she was recommended by someone in the church. The change in her and her daughter has been amazing.”
Through the Fresh Start Group, Lynda and her team of volunteers have helped individuals overcome huge barriers in their lives, and as they serve, they too are blessed. “I think that the volunteers get as much from the course as the participants,” muses Lynda.
Find out how Cinnamon can help your church get involved in social action.