Category Archives: Mission

Things to think about when consider how we put faith in Jesus into action

London Citizens a placement in review

My Placement with West London Citizens

Though Ealing Trinity Circuit joined West London Citizens in 2013, my involvement began at the beginning of 2014 when I met with Jasper, an organiser. I was interested in doing the 2-day training leadership course that Citizens offered. Instead I found myself becoming involved in the Local Election Accountability Assembly. About the same time, I found out that I hadn’t been successful in candidating to be a Methodist minister and wouldn’t be going forward for ministerial training. I wasn’t sure what to do. I didn’t feel that candidating was over for me; it still felt important but I couldn’t reapply for a year at least so I needed something that would give me some practical training, some skills, some way of developing me. It was then that I heard about a two year part-time master’s course in Community Organising run by Queen Mary University. I successfully applied for the course with some help with funding from the circuit.

The main attraction of the course for me was that it offered practical training and experience through a five month placement with Citizens UK. My placement was based in Northolt and Greenford Methodist Churches with the aim of getting a team of people to make a difference around an issue the churches felt strongly about. My first step was to hold about thirty one-to-one conversations with people from both churches mainly at their homes but also at work, church, cafe and even on the tube. I then invited people from the churches to a Sanctuary Vigil at William Perkins School. The purpose vigil was to ask Steve Pound MP to commit to ending indefinite detention for asylum seekers. The evening started with song, a stirring story from someone who had been detained indefinitely, and Steve Pound being asked if he would commit to work with Citizens to end this atrocity. Then the group formed a circle outside holding candles with candles in the centre laid out in the shape of the hands of a clock as we stood in silence waiting with those who were being detained. Nine people from Ealing Trinity Circuit were present at the vigil.

From those who came to the vigil and others from the church, we formed a team to take action – not on immigration but on the issue chosen by the group: homelessness. We met several times as a team to plan and listened to people in the churches and those who had been homeless to get a better idea of what we could do. After speaking to Eric, a Big Issue Seller, we decided that one of the ways we could help would be to buy insulated mugs to give to people who were homeless so that they could keep soup/a hot drink with them during the day. The team went back to the churches to raise money to buy mugs aiming for £25 from each church and raised £61. Since collecting the money, we have also had two extra mugs donated. We hope to give the mugs to Father Gerard at St Anselm’s Church, Southall, who works with the homeless.

My placement officially ended in May when I went with a group of people from Northolt and Greenford to the General Election Accountability Assembly on Bank Holiday Monday 4th May at Westminster Central Hall. 2,200 people packed the hall from a program that included singing, music, a history lesson, poetry, and personal stories. The main part of the program was when the three main political party leaders were asked whether they would work with Citizens UK to make a difference on four issues: improved social care, end to indefinite detention, a fairer credit system and living wage. It wasn’t just about making demands; the work that politicians had already done with Citizens was recognised and they were thanked. Also key leaders that have played a part in Citizens UK were recognised and they literally handed batons to the Citizens UK Young Leaders to acknowledge their role in organising. It wasn’t all about the people at the front particularly when representatives from the alliances (groups set up by Citizens in different areas of the country) asked for people from their alliance ‘to stand up and be counted’. West London Citizens were well represented, as was Ealing Trinity Circuit with seven people.

Even though my placement finished in May, I hope to continue working with the team and with others around the circuit. For London Citizens the next big event will be Thursday 28April 2016 6-8.30pm at The Copper Box Arena, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, where 6,000 people will be packed hold to account the mayoral candidates. West London Citizens have started a listening campaign to find out problems people are having around housing to take to this event.

From just two churches thirty three people have got involved in the organising process with thirteen taking part in actions. How much more could we achieve if all the churches from the circuit got involved? It is time we stood up and were counted.

By Rebecca Catford

Foodbank update

 Ealing Foodbank update from  July 2015 by

Marion McNeill, Voucher Partner Coordinator, Ealing Foodbank, 

Celebration Service

Ealing Foodbank has just celebrated its 2nd birthday, with a Celebration Service at Greenford Methodist Church. Over 80 people attended that event – including the MP for Ealing North, Steve Pound, the Leader of Ealing Council – Julian Bell and several of the Councillors. It was a wonderful evening of celebration and thanksgiving.

Tesco Collection

Over three days (2, 3 and 4 July), the Tesco National collection took place – all the donations from Tesco Perivale were given to Ealing Foodbank. We also accepted the offer from Trussell Trust of food donations from two Tesco stores in Newbury, Berkshire.

Volunteers from the Foodbank handed out shopping lists of all the items we need most urgently, they delivered the donated food to St Christophers, where other volunteers sorted it and then further volunteers moved it to the warehouse at Hanwell Community Centre and to the overflow storage area in Big Yellow.

This represented 380 volunteer hours over those three days.

Our volunteers did an amazing job on those three days – and they continue to do so week by week – without them we would not exist

Current rate of food distribution

Over 3½ tons of food was donated – which is great BUT, in fact, at the current rate of distribution, this amount of food will last us just 5 weeks. Because, in May alone, nearly 3 tons of food was delivered to the five Foodbank cafes – by now all that food will have been used – because we are currently distributing nearly 600kg of food – over half a metric ton – each week to those clients who are in need of emergency food aid.

Number of clients and voucher partners

Over 5000 clients have been fed since the first café opened in Acton in October 2013. During May alone 282 people were fed – and this number is now steadily increasing.

Currently, we have 111 voucher partners – who are referring clients to us on a regular basis – and this number is also steadily increasing – as more and more agencies hear about us and have clients who are in need of emergency food aid.

There are five foodbank cafes at present but, because of a specific need that has been identified by some of our voucher partners, we are considering the feasibility of opening an additional café on a Saturday morning for a couple of hours.

Appeal

Which is why I have asked to speak to you today – to make an appeal on behalf of Ealing Foodbank.

Permanent collection point at your church

To those churches who do not have a permanent collection point in their churches – and many of you do already – may I make a sincere plea to you today to seriously consider introducing one – because at the current rate of distribution we will be hard-pressed to have sufficient food to last until the hoped for Harvest donations are received.

At this point, I must tell you, that last week, we received tremendous news that the Central Jamia Masjid mosque, the largest and oldest mosque in Southall has decided to make a financial donation to the Foodbank and to host a permanent food collection point for us (ie not just during Ramadan) – which is a wonderful gesture in promoting inter-faith relations and for which we are very grateful.

So, we hope that if you do not already have a permanent food collection point at your church that you will consider taking their lead and follow suit.

Harvest

May we also ask if your church will consider donating your Harvest collection to Ealing Foodbank please – also by way of tinned and dried goods – as listed on the current shopping list – food items of which we are most in need. May I ask each of you to take a handful away of those shopping lists with you.

Foodbank Champion

Also, if you do not already have a named Foodbank Champion at your church may I ask you to seek someone out who will be willing to do this.

Please send the details of their name and email address of that person to info@ealing.foodbank.org.uk   They will be sent the Ealing Foodbank Newsletter and the regular ‘Most wanted list’ of food items and will we asked to circulate this information to your congregation. We would also ask that they take responsibility for ensuring the items that are donated are taken to our warehouse in Hanwell Community Centre every two/three weeks. Regrettably, we are unable to come and collect the food from your church because of an acute shortage of volunteer drivers. Which brings me to my next request for which we are asking for your help…………

Volunteers needed

If you know of anyone who would be willing to give up a few hours each week as a volunteer, either as a volunteer driver, or to help in the warehouse, or in one of the cafes, please refer them to the Ealing Foodbank website and ask them to complete and return the volunteers application form.

Request for prayer

Finally, may I ask you to remember in your prayers all those who are involved with Ealing Foodbank in any way – including the voucher partners – but, most importantly all those clients who are in desperate need of emergency food – that they may be helped to find a way out of their current crisis and get their lives back on track.

Where’s the review – Benefit sanctions (JPIT)

It has been 100 days since the Work and Pensions Select Committee called for a full independent review of the benefit sanctions system, but the Government has not indicated any intention to conduct a review. A group of Churches and charities is calling urgently for the Government to heed the Committee’s report and act on its recommendations.

In the same 100 day period last year, 346,256 people who were on Jobseeker’s Allowance and 35,554 people on Employment Support Allowance were referred for sanctions. 92,558 of those referrals were the result of bureaucratic error. These resulted in 175,177 sanctions for Jobseekers and 11,129 for those out of work due to ill health. The call for a review is supported by the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Church of Scotland, the Church in Wales, the Methodist Church, the United Reformed Church and by charities Church Action on Poverty, Gingerbread and Mind.

“The implementation of the present sanction regime is controversial with the government claiming it is effective in helping people into work while many others say sanctions are causing real distress to families and are actually acting as a barrier to participation,” said Dame Anne Begg, MP for Aberdeen South from 1997 to 2015, who chaired the Select Committee. “If sanctions work as a deterrent, why are so many people still facing multiple sanctions? As there are so many questions about the effects on people who have been sanctioned, it is time the government implemented the recommendation of my Select Committee in the last Parliament to carry out a full, independent review of the whole sanction regime. Many believe that sanctions are being applied to the wrong people for often trivial reasons and are the cause of the increased use of foodbanks. Only an independent review can get to the truth of what is actually happening so that government policy can be based on evidence and not seen as merely punitive.”

“The case has been made,” said Paul Morrison, Public Issues Policy Adviser for the Methodist Church. “The sanctions system requires fundamental review and we call upon the new Parliament to respond positively to the recommendations of the Select Committee. Churches and charities are backing this call because we see day by day the harm that benefit sanctions cause in the communities we serve. We recognise the hiatus caused by the General Election, but hope that the new Parliament will recognise the urgency of this matter and announce a full independent inquiry as soon as possible.”

In March this year the Churches called for such a review in their report Time to Rethink Benefit Sanctions, which cited new evidence about the negative impact of the current regime. The report revealed that around 100,000 children were affected by sanctions in 2013/14. The data, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, also shows that people who receive the sickness and disability benefit Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) because of a long-term mental health problem are being sanctioned at a rate of more than 100 per day.

The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan said: “Since 2012, the rate at which sanctions have been applied to vulnerable people claiming Job Seekers Allowance and Employment Support Allowance in Wales has increased even faster than in England or Scotland. Many claimants, who are already suffering from mental or physical health problems and living in poverty, are threatened with sanctions because of administrative errors. For the sake of human dignity, fairness and compassion, the system must be changed.”

Paul Farmer, CEO of Mind, said: “Far too many people with mental health problems are having their benefits cut for not meeting the requirements placed on them, which are often inappropriate in the first place. The use of sanctions is causing financial hardship and is based on the assumption that people claiming out-of-work benefits lack motivation and willingness to find and keep a job, which couldn’t be further from the truth for the people Mind represents.

“The vast majority of people who are out of work due to their mental health want to work. But the constant threat of sanctions causes a great deal of distress, making people more unwell and a return to work less likely. We support the Churches’ call for the Government to commission an independent review into sanctions policy.”

“In working with churches across the North West, I am increasingly hearing stories of individuals whose lives are being blighted by the impact of benefit sanctions,” added the Revd Phil Jump, Regional Minister for the North Western Baptist Association. “There is clear evidence of the need for our government to take serious account of the concerns and recommendations of a committee which itself is part of our parliamentary system.”

The Churches are asking people to write to their MPs.