Prayer News – August 2018
Cinnamon Incubator in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland
We are always looking for great church-led social action projects which can be replicated by other churches. Over the course of the past nine months, Tommy Stewart has been coaching five church-based community projects from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland as part of the Cinnamon Incubator.
The projects have benefitted from four one to one sessions and four full days of training, and have made significant process in terms of clarifying their vision and mission, developing their organisation and governance structures and creating a plan to replicate their work.
It’s been great to see the five projects supporting and encouraging each other throughout their journey, and we’re looking forward to getting together at the end of August for the next training day.
The five initiatives currently on the incubator are:
- Release – supports former prisoners as they transition back into the community.
- Rise – provides mentoring and leadership to encourage secondary school-aged children to engage in volunteering.
- Moving Forward – helps 16-25-year-olds to re-engage with employment and education, and take care of their physical and spiritual wellbeing.
- Active Listening – provides signposting to services for vulnerable people who have been in contact with the police.
- Love Works Co-op – helps churches to establish co-operative societies that share the profits back into community.
- Find out more about the Cinnamon Project Incubator
Community Breakfast in Bognor Regis
RCCG True Vine Parish is a small church in the centre of Bognor Regis with around 10-30 regular attendees, and has been part of the Community Transformation Project. The church is led by Pastor Gbenga with the support of Youth Pastor, Nike Adekoya. For the past two years, Cinnamon has been supporting Nike in both her youth work and her ministry to the homeless.
Nike was introduced to her local Cinnamon Advisor, Victoria, who encouraged her to attend the Cinnamon Leadership Training. Nike said, “Attending the training made me realise we needed to do something in the community. The church had previously done a soup run for homeless people in the community, but it was only once a month and it was difficult to build relationships. But meeting Victoria and Heidi was divine inspiration!”
Through the support of Cinnamon Advisors, Victoria and Heidi, and attending training, Nike was encouraged to think about what would be the most appropriate way to engage with the community. Although Nike has extensive experience of working with communities in Nigeria, culturally the situation was very different in Bognor Regis! Heidi suggested that Nike visit different groups and contact statutory agencies to find out more about her new community.
Supporting Community Collaboration
Nike was also supported in contacting her local police, to ask for their guidance in setting up a suitable project. Heidi said, “Nike was clear about what she wanted to do and I was able to help her to draft a letter using language which agencies, like the police, would be able to respond to.” As a result, Nike was invited to meet the local police youth prevention officer. After a two-hour meeting, Nike left equipped with helpful advice and contacts within the local community. As a result, Nike is now signed up to volunteer with a local youth charity. Nike found the experience of meeting with the police “really useful and good for us as a church community”.
Through the support of the Community Transformation Project, Nike was able to think about how to relate and reach out to the local community. Heidi and Victoria helped her to identify ways of practically supporting the community that could be sustained by a small church congregation. Nike said, “I saw the level of homelessness in Bognor and wanted to help. I know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” So, the community breakfast, funded through donations from individuals, was launched in February 2018 and was advertised at the job centre, charity shops, council and local hostels. Before long, beneficiaries began passing the information through word of mouth.
Meeting a Real Community Need
A hot meal is provided by a team of four volunteers every Friday morning. Nike said, “During the cold winter period we had people queuing to come in and have a hot drink and meal. Sometimes we’ve had up to 30 people for breakfast, although it’s less now with the warmer weather. We are also getting a couple of people regularly attending the church.” Yinka, one of the volunteers said, “I get a real sense of fulfilment from helping with the community breakfast. It’s been great when we are walking through the town centre and people shout ‘hello’ to us.”
One of the beneficiaries said, “It helps people have a routine, something to get out of bed for. I read in a newspaper once the three things that adults miss most from childhood: going on the swings in the park, the tooth fairy, and being cooked for – so maybe that helps too. It makes people feel safe.”
Nike said, “Being part of the Community Transformation Project has given us confidence. Training, like the monitoring and evaluation course, helped us to listen to people’s stories and identify if we are making an impact.” Now there’s no stopping Nike and the team in Bognor Regis. Their next plan is to start a Reflex project to work with young offenders in the area.
Cinnamon Faith Action Audit Connects the Dots
A Cinnamon Faith Action Audit opened new opportunities for churches in Lincoln to reach those in need.
Churches in Lincoln knew they were involved in a lot of social action projects, but had no idea of the scale or breadth of the services they provided. They’d also received very little support from the local authorities in the city and were largely working in isolation, so they decided to conduct a Cinnamon Faith Action Audit.
The Cinnamon Faith Action Audit they conducted in 2015 showed that collectively churches and faith groups within the city were fulfilling 4,900 volunteers roles to support 63,000 beneficiary interactions through more than 350 social action projects. Collectively the financial value of support they provided equated to £14 million.
Their research gave churches the opportunity to talk directly to council leaders, who openly admitted that they didn’t know the extent of work being done by local churches, who to contact about working with them or even if churches were willing to work in partnership.
As a result, the churches set up the Active Faith Network, to coordinate their social action and to offer ‘one voice’ with whom the council and others could communicate. The group have now secured funding to take on a member of staff to coordinate the group’s efforts to support the vulnerable within the city.
Their approach to social action has become much more strategic, with subgroups working to assess specific needs and gaps in provision. Together the churches are working more closely with local authorities and other organisations to address key issues.
In May 2017, they hosted a Civic Prayer Breakfast at Lincoln Cathedral, which provided a wonderful opportunity to maintain the dialogue started by the audit, and to pray strategically for the city of Lincoln.