CRCW - Ann HoneyAnnHoney profile pic

Billingham is a town dating back to Anglo-Saxon times within the borough of Stockton-on-Tees. The town developed substantially in the 1930’s as workers were attracted to the local shipbuilding industries and to ICI. The decline of these industries in the late 20th century, has left pockets of social deprivation including high levels of long-term unemployment, particularly in the areas directly around the Church.

St. Columba’s URC is part of the Hartlepool and Teesside Group, which consists of four URC churches in a 15-mile radius of each other (Hartlepool, Billingham, Stockton and Thornaby). Although the Church is within a four -church pastorate the CRCW project will only include St. Columba's URC.

Project Aims: By demonstrating Christian love and values, we seek to transform the lives of the most vulnerable in the local community. Two points of focus identified by the church are:

* to improve outcomes for the young people in the local area.
* in association with other agencies, to develop initiatives to engage with the socially isolated, including young parents, single parent families and elderly residents.

Church Related Community Worker; Ann Honey was called to this new CRCW project at the end of 2018 and inducted to St. Columba’s in February 2019. Ann says: “I'm looking forward to meeting lots of new people and seeing what God has in store for me. It will be different as I've never lived south of the water before (Northumbrian reference to the River Tyne!) - I'm really excited."

Ann will be dividing her time between the project (80%) and Northern Synod (for the remaining 20%). It’s early days but the initial aims are:

St Columba’s, Billingham - Strategic objectives aim to identify community needs and opportunities; to develop skills and confidence, enabling the church to respond practically and to reflect theologically on the issues identified; build up relationships within the locality of the church; to address social injustice and improve outcomes for vulnerable people in the community.

Northern Synod - To engage with Northern Synod’s partnership of Faith in our Communities (FIC) and support the churches of the Synod to develop their engagement in community work, as part of God’s mission.

You can read a Ann's most recent CRCW reflection here.

CRCW - Jo PattersonJo Head and shoulders

Jo Patterson started her role as Church Related Community Worker (CRCW) at Copleston Church & Centre in Peckham on 1 January 2019, following a placement there whilst studying CRCW ministry at Northern College.

The parish is located on the East Dulwich side of Peckham, in an area that has become an attractive location for both professional and highly skilled people. However, within areas of local authority housing, there continues to be significant numbers of people suffering deprivation and Peckham is listed as one of the worst-affected areas in the country for personal indebtedness.

The rapidly changing profile of the local community presents a significant challenge that is viewed with apprehension, but also hope of transformation and development, which they believe will bring benefits to all sections of the community.

Within this context, there is an enthusiasm for an initiative that recognises and values the boost to local business and culture that has resulted from the new affluence coming into the area. Copleston Church and Centre seek to find ways of establishing meaningful connections and engagement across all sections of the changed profile of the area.  An ambitious aim that could have far-reaching and long-lasting benefits.

The Mission Action Plan (MAP) is to prioritise the development of the relationship between church members and centre groups and activities, alongside the planning of several non-religious events that bring in members of the wider community.

Immediate priorities:     
* establish a clear relationship within the staff structure of the Centre, and with the existing projects and activities
* strengthen links and involvement of church members in Centre activities

Long term objectives:
* establish a strong partnership between church and community volunteers running activities
* establish a regular pattern of community consultation
* raise the profile of Copleston Centre and its offer in the local community and wider area
* strengthen the profile and involvement of Copleston in wider networks of faith groups and community organisations


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