Bishop Latimer United Church, Birmingham (LEP)

CRCW – Adella PritchardAdella Pritchard April14Web

Winson Green is an inner-city area of Birmingham, in the Soho Ward. The ward is culturally diverse and has a younger age profile than the city average with half the population aged 30 or below.  A recent study of the area by Octavius Learning and Development Partnership, written in conjunction with the Bishop Latimer United Church, highlighted the following: the multicultural/multilingual nature of the neighbourhood; the key concern of waste management, the difficulty of residents finding time to commit to community activities and interact with neighbours – due to other pressures such as work, family, childcare etc. and the lack of opportunities for children and young people, including safe places to play outdoors and youth provision.

Bishop Latimer United Church is a Local Ecumenical Partnership between the Anglican Church and the United Reformed Church, situated in Winson Green. It has a culturally diverse congregation, with the mission statement: “Church & Communities Together. All welcome.” Most of the members of the congregation are on low incomes, benefits or state pensions. There are few car owners or home owners.  

Adella regularly leads worship in the church, often in the form of Café Style Worship and co-chairs the Ecumenical Church Council Meetings with the 25% scoped Anglican Priest in Charge. Along with the church administrator she keeps a good working relationship with the other building users: Winson Green Pre-School, Nash Dom (an interpreting advice and guidance community organisation) and 3 other churches.  

The church runs a long established Boys Brigade/Girl’s Association and Adella is one of the officers along with 3 other members from the church who are officers too. The membership of the Company is more from the community than the church family.

Church Related Community Work Project:  Work of Latimer Connections
The community work is led by Adella, supported by a community work steering committee and a team of volunteers. The mission statement of the community work project is: ‘Our intention is to be Relational.’ The aims of the church related community work that underpin the projects from 2015 to 2020 are building and maintaining community relationships, increasing community activity, planning strategically and reflecting theologically, as well as developing each project in its own right.

As illustrated in a Church Urban Fund factsheet – The Web of Party – 3 categories of poverty exist in the Winson Green community, providing a backdrop into which the church related community work is delivered:
* Poverty of resources – many residents lack sufficient resources, such as income, skills, qualifications or health, to achieve a good    standard of living and resources are limited, as are people’s choices and opportunities.
* Poverty of relationships – many residents lack the strong and supportive relationships on which individual, family and community life are built, resulting in loneliness and isolation and so relationships are under pressure.
* Poverty of identity – many residents lack a strong sense of self-worth and a belief in their own ability to respond to challenges, which has related in low self-esteem, a lack of resilience and aspiration, poor mental health and even drug and alcohol misuse.

The church related community work project is now its 8th year of a given period of 10 years. In terms of project work, Adella:
* co-leads the community garden – Bishop Latimer Community Garden and supports the  Gardner’s Committee;
* co-leads the weekly group ‘Tea & Chat’, a self-help social group for the Over 50’s and part of Birmingham’s Place of
Welcome scheme;
* represents the church on the trustees board (she is secretary) of Soho First Community Development Trust for the ward and
* supports ‘Women Mean Business’, a weekly run women’s group which is part of the Latimer/Octavius Learning and
Development Hub.

For several years, the gardeners have entered the RHS ‘Its Your Neighbourhood’ award along with some residents from 6 local streets (approximately 400 households) which are situated close to the church. This entry is called Winson Green in Bloom and has been a catalyst for bringing community members together and tackling the on-going environmental issues in the area. A small group of prisoners from HMP Birmingham grow plants for the hanging baskets that are distributed to local residents; thereby helping to keep down the costs of the project. Again, like last year there will be some type of activity for ‘Winson Green in Bloom at Christmas time’!