Another working group set about creating a new website to enable people to access help if they are homeless. it highlights the current needs of organisations serving the homeless, and the real requests for help there are. This website launched in April and has an associated app (Street Support).
Other groups are looking at move-on accommodation, creative temporary accommodation options, and co-ordinating the provision of help in the voluntary and faith sectors.
Scottish & Southern Electricity Networks Priority Services
We all rely on electricity day to day and are inconvenienced during power failures, but for some, a power cut can be particularly distressing and difficult. Scottish & Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) offer extra help and support during a power cut by providing free priority support to those that are vulnerable, distressed or at risk – e.g. if they rely on medical equipment at home. Registering for their Priority Services helps them to help when you need it most. All their priority services are FREE. For more information, please download their leaflet.
Saint Mary's Church
People have been worshipping on the site of Saint Mary's since 634 AD, and in 1885 the church famously founded Southampton F.C. Go Saints! September marks a new chapter in the church’s history - the Diocese of Winchester is to invest £800,000 to renew the iconic St Mary’s Church. The investment will fund a major building project which will include repairing the roof and internal fabric of the church. In addition to the building work, part of the funding will go towards establishing the new leadership team at St Mary’s, who will work with the parish congregation to provide support to the community across the city.
‘We are so privileged and excited to be joining in with what God is already doing in this city!’ - Jon Finch
In September 2018, Jon and Hannah Finch, along with a small team, are re-vitalising Saint Mary's Church with a vision to play their part in seeing the renewal of Southampton.
The Right Rev Jonathan Frost, Bishop of Southampton, said: 'Saint Mary’s has a very special role to play at the centre of Southampton. This grant will not only fund the building works, which are so important to enable the building to meet the needs of the people it serves but will also enable us to build a new team to work at the heart of the city. Over the summer we will see a great deal of activity at Saint Mary’s as the building works take place and the new team arrives, and I am looking forward to the next phase of Saint Mary’s contribution to our local community commencing in September.’
One of the aims of the proposals is to enable Saint Mary’s to better cater for the student population in the city. We will learn as much as we can about Southampton’s needs so that we can play our part in bringing hope and social transformation. We have already felt so welcomed by leaders of the Christian communities in Southampton, and it has been exciting to hear the vision and passion for each of those communities.’
Training for churches around fostering and adoption
Around 50 delegates from a range of churches attended a training day focused on how to best support and help families that foster and adopt. The sessions were fun, interactive, and very informative.
‘It really helped everyone to see how the church can serve children who may not have had the easiest start in life, and how we can support their families. The team from Home for Good served us excellently, and I think we'll plan to do it again next year.’ - Course leader, Chris Kilby.
Journey of Hope: The Mayflower - The Passengers and their Stories
2020 marks the 400th anniversary of the journey of the Mayflower ship from Southampton waters and there are big plans to mark the occasion across the city as well as other parts of the world. So, it seems only right that the Christian story of the Pilgrim Fathers is told... sounds like a job for E-QUIP Arts!
'This is a really exciting opportunity for the church to stand up and tell part of its history in Southampton.'
In partnership with Matt Bunday, Neil Maddock has started to develop an event that will educate people about the past and inspire them for the future. Neil explained, ‘We will stage a large-scale outdoor production, hopefully in Mayflower Park, that will tell the historical story of the Mayflower and challenge people about the dreams and aspirations that lie inside each of them. It will be a story that provides hope, makes people think about faith and their own journey of discovery. It will be a musical production with original songs and script, accompanied by live music, dance and the use of video and effects.
This is a really exciting opportunity for the Church to stand up and tell part of its history in Southampton. At this stage this is the largest event being planned for 2020 and the proposal for the event is being submitted to the planning committee next week, although they already know our intentions and are very excited to see what we can stage in the city.’
Safe Families honoured with top care services award
Safe Families for Children recently won the Innovative Quality Outcomes Award at the Third Sector Care Awards. Safe Families works with 33 local authorities across England to support vulnerable families and reduce the flow of children into the care system. A panel of social care experts judged the award and said: ‘It is a social movement that is innovative, and changes not only practices but also lives.’
Keith Danby, chief executive at Safe Families, said: ‘We are absolutely delighted to win this prestigious award! It's a real tribute to the impact our volunteers have had in helping vulnerable families in their community. Safe Families is a community-based solution to a community-based problem. It's bringing communities back to a culture of people helping people.’
Locally, Safe Families have been working in Southampton since October 2016 and it has been a wonderful time of building relationships with Southampton City Council, church and community groups, volunteers and, most important of all, families across the city. Our volunteers have already made such an enormous difference. In Southampton alone, they have been friends to over 89 families, helped around 230 children and they have hosted children for over 100 nights in total.
No two volunteers for Safe Families are alike – they are young, old, married, single, of different faiths and none, working, retired or students. They all have different experiences and skills, but they all share a common mind – they want to help people; they want to care for people and they want to show love.
Every one of our volunteers have shown love and compassion and understanding to families – just by being there and helping families work through some of their issues.
We have so many great stories this year, but a couple do stand out:
Recently, we have helped a single mum of five who was going into hospital to have her sixth child. The two older children were catered for but she had nowhere for her three youngest to go. Safe Families offered hosting to her three youngsters for 11 nights. The mother and baby had a few complications- and then a further two volunteers, Family Friends, went in to help the new mother with jobs around the house to more cosy and habitable, as well as to offer her emotional support.
Another case involved a mother of a very young baby, who had been used as a domestic slave in the extended family home. We hosted the mum and baby for a week; and helped her to move to a refuge. She was also helped to return to her husband in a different house and they started their life together anew.
Most cases are not so dramatic, but really do just involve a listening ear and some emotional support to help isolated parents work their way out of difficulties, or introduce them into community groups, in order to lessen their isolation.
The 21st Southampton Annual Peace Walk took place on Sunday 1 July. Despite competing with ‘Armed Forces Day’ and ‘Race for ‘Life’, between 60-80 people walked around five miles from the Peace Fountain to Nanaksar Gurdwara (where lunch was provided). The walk continued to Abu Bakr Mosque, from there to the Vedic Temple (Hindu) and finally the Greek Orthodox Church (St Nicholas). At each venue a short talk was given about the particular religion. At the Vedic Temple we also heard about Buddhism. A hot, long, but worthwhile afternoon!
Hope Community School Completes its First Year!
Hope Community School completed its first school year on Friday 20 July. What an adventure it has been! We have been working with 30 Year R children and their families and they are now ready to move up to Year 1 with another class of Year R children ready to start in September. We are working in our temporary site at Central Hall with two qualified teachers, a head teacher (Steve Wright) and five support staff including Claire Rogers our marketing manager. We have been ably assisted by a wonderful group of volunteers, many who attend New Community. The church has also employed a part time chaplain who works hard to support families in whatever way is appropriate. The Clear Refugee Project has strong connections with the school and has provided parents with English classes that specifically support parents to hear their children read.
The children have settled in really well and have made above average progress. We have been rigorously monitored by both the DFE and the Local Authority. The Local SACRE chair along with Alison Philpot visited us in May to look at our RE teaching and provision for assemblies. In June, we took part in the Early Years moderation process and received excellent reports from both teams. We are now looking forward to the next academic year and have employed two excellent teaching assistants to work alongside our two very experienced teachers. Plans are very much in place for a new building. The site has been cleared and we have undertaken a public consultation. We are just waiting for final ministerial approval so that construction can begin.
Southampton Street Pastors
It’s been a busy summer for the Street Pastors who have provided a number of additional patrols in support of the Common People festival, a number of the World Cup games and most recently we have increased our presence in the Millbrook area in response to the tragic murder of Lucy McHugh.
During the last 12 months volunteers have:
- assisted 147 distressed people
- helped 92 vulnerable people
- raised 21 Safeguarding concerns
- called 22 ambulances
- collected over a tonne of bottles from the streets (so they cannot be used as weapons)
- called the Police 35 times
- dealt with over 250 drunk people
- changed people’s behaviour in a positive way 284 times
- provided over 2,000 hot drinks to the homeless
- administered first aid 34 times
- given out 370 pairs of flip-flops (to stop people cutting their feet on broken glass).
Southampton Street Pastors have now provided more than 48,000 volunteering hours helping to keep the city safe. One volunteer is close to reaching the milestone of 1000 volunteering hours as a Street Pastor! In April 2019, they will mark their ten year anniversary.
Chaplaincy in the city
The City Chaplaincy steering group has been meeting regularly seeking to ensure that this emerging area of ministry is properly supported with adequate training and underpinned with prayer. It is amazing just how much chaplaincy is already going on.
‘There are ever increasing opportunities to bring chaplains into all sorts of situations. One of the things that the steering group had realised was the lack of awareness across the city of what chaplaincy is and the openings that are there and so we are keen to identify, train and support people to fulfil this work’. - Chris Davis
One of the ways that we have been supporting those involved in chaplaincy in all its forms is to bring them together once a term for fellowship, learning, sharing and prayer. It has been great to see chaplains from the Hospitals, Schools, Colleges and Universities, those working with older people, or on the streets, in massage parlours and in the workplace.
For the future: we are hoping to run a basic training course in chaplaincy in the new year. If this is something you might be interested in do please contact us. No dates or venue have been agreed yet, but an expression of interest would be helpful.
Your Schools Southampton is a project led by Chris Davis and Sammy Jordan under the auspices of Southampton City Mission. The aim is to make meaningful links between local churches and local schools, avoiding duplication between churches. The network supports, equips and encourages churches to be involved in their school community.
This is a long-term strategy to provide quality schools work and spiritual support, which builds relationships between schools and churches in Southampton.
At the moment, there are 141 links between churches/organisations like Southampton City Mission and schools across the city. These links might consist of assemblies, chaplaincy input, RE lessons, visits or more practical support. Just nine schools have no local links and the network is working to establish quality and trusted relationships in these places.