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CRCW - Kirsty MabbottKirsty Mabbott photo web

Coventry is re-emerging young, vibrant and multi-cultural city, ‘a City of Sanctuary, Peace and Reconciliation’ and will became the City of Culture in May 2021. The traditional extensive car industry has been replaced by hi-Tec jobs and there has been the expansion of two universities. The population is spread from comfortable middle class, through to working class, to those in poverty, with a higher than average level of homelessness. There are several charities, including the cathedral and churches, working to improve relationships and the lives of people within the area.

Ansty Road URC is a 2016 amalgamation of Wyken URC (the present site about two miles from the city centre) and the closed Stoke URC. St Columba’s URC unfortunately had to close on 31st December 2020. The Coronavirus Pandemic accelerated conditions that led to this decision by the church membership. Some of the folk from St Columba’s will be moving to Ansty Road URC, others will be looking at URC’s closer to them in Coventry.

Memberships at Ansty Road URC is about 30-35. The work that took place at St Columba’s is currently on pause, due to Coronavirus rather than the closure of the church and will be relocated once things can reopen. Ansty Road hope to generate community involvement once things can open properly now that the major building project has been completed. Their goal is to open a ‘shop front’ outreach venue, close to the site of the former Stoke URC. The lease on a property is currently being negotiated and the aim is to open later in 2021.

Vision for the CRCW Project:

CRCW Kirsty Mabbott was called to this project and Inducted at a service in April 2019. The focus has been to develop existing work, and to seek and bring to fruition the goals of both churches. Kirsty has spent a lot of time consulting local people, identifying need and building relationships. Several projects had been established at St Columba’s and Ansty Road, but all of them had to be paused due to national lockdowns and the local council taking the lead on provision for the homeless in the city. Once things can begin operating again, the hope is to move forward promptly with the ‘shop front’ project.

The project aims to offer love, welcome, hope and faith. Kirsty will bring knowledge and experience to this role and will be committed to working with local communities to tackle injustice, inequality of opportunity, poverty, and homelessness. Kirsty will also assist in helping the church to create a faith-based space for the LGBTIQA+ community while continuing to support the church to offer same sex marriages.

You can read Kirsty's most recent reflection: Time to Remember - reflecting on the struggles many in the LGBTIQA+ communities have faced in the past and the celebration of LGBT Pride, which takes place in the month of June each year.

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 spiritual growth of the congregation and investigate new ways of speaking confidently about their faith, alongside the development of the relationship between church members and centre groups and activities

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

 Read Jo's reflection, Digital exclusion feeds inequality - we must give the same opportunities to all.

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. The first year of the project built relationships with many local organisations, and although the Covid Pandemic put the brakes on some of the activities in church, Ann has worked to keep these going – working at the local foodbank, with “Stockton Hope”  and supporting the work of the youth organisation “Corner House”.

Ann divides 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.

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