A message of hope from Peter Smith

Peter is a Parish Development Worker at Wellsprings Together in the diocese of Leeds, a core member of our Together Network.

For Peter, 2022 was a year for doing things differently, finding new ways of communicating and resourcing their networks.

"I’ve been encouraged by the resourcefulness and bravery of churches in the ways that they work to tackle an almost impossible social and community environment in the cost-of-living crisis. Their hope shines out as they continue to journey with people.

Skipton POW kitchen via Peter Smith 15 3 23

Churches have that presence to create a family and a sense of belonging in a way that very few other organisations can. Buildings, volunteers, experience, whatever it may be, churches have something they can draw on that meets a need in the community. Churches often underestimate the impact they have and how many people they are reaching in various different ways.

This year we’ve seen very small Sunday congregations dedicate time and resource to make a disproportionately great impact throughout the week to serve their local area, and seen Places of Welcome becoming a hub for the community again in areas where identity has been lost over the years, providing safe spaces for people to just be.

I think of a guest, Jack, who was traumatised after the loss of his sister to the point where he wasn’t eating. He came along to a Place of Welcome. The first week he didn’t want to talk, he just wanted a space to sit. Just five weeks later, he’d found a group of new friends and was tucking into a bowl of soup and a roll. It was astonishing. Things like this happen, often, not planned, but these spaces are where God turns up in unexpected ways.

The Christian ethos which underpins our work, and that of CUF, centres on care, support and resourcing – not judging but being patient with people. A focus on building relationships with those we serve has been essential, and at Wellsprings Together we work to establish relationships, understanding, and form a bond of trust over time. We aim to do things with people rather than for them.

As you’re reading this report I hope you get a sense of how all CUF’s partners have adopted the Asset Based Community Development approach, using the resources they’ve already got, and getting people to realise what they have, working to develop something together rather than imposing something from above.

That is very much the approach that we take and the learning we will bring with us into 2023. Thank you for your support.

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