top of page
Search

Christian social action changing lives in Enfield

Updated: Jan 15

Anna* was in debt and, through shame, kept the debts secret from her family. She was near to breaking point when she walked through the doors of Enfield Debt Centre. The relief of talking to the team, and realising she had options, was so huge that she wept.

David*, through conversation with a volunteer at North Enfield Foodbank, was referred to the debt centre and discovered he was eligible for benefits. The additional financial support meant he no longer needed to use the foodbank, and this change in his circumstances led to such an increase in his self-esteem and self-confidence that he was able to return to work.


Rebecca* had been out of work since the start of the first lockdown and had also decided to change career. She’d lost confidence and didn’t know what steps to take next. She attended Re-Work and benefited hugely from learning how to use her transferable skills – and she’s now thriving in her new job in a wellness clinic.


Enfield Debt Centre, North Enfield Foodbank and Re-Work are all projects run by SENT, the social action arm of Jubilee Church London (and called SENT because Jesus sent his son to us, and he sent us out into the world to be his hands and feet). Jubilee Church is part of the New Frontiers network, with four church sites across North London and Essex.


Catherine Pask, Head of Social Action, explains the motivation behind the church’s commitment to social action: “Jubilee Church has always had a heart for those in need. We want to care for those outside our four walls as well as those of us in the church.” The first SENT project – the foodbank – started ten years ago and was followed by the debt centre. Reacting to the needs of the local community is a key part of this social action work – all projects were started to meet local needs as SENT become aware of them, and they’ll end if/when the need disappears.


“On the walls of our very first foodbank we stencilled words from Matthew 25:35-40: ‘For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me...’” These verses remain at the heart of SENT’s vision, as does a passion for helping create a society where the troubles of the poor and needy are centre stage.


SENT currently runs seven social action projects: North Enfield Foodbank; Enfield Debt Centre; Fuel Bank; Smart Recovery (addiction recovery project); M6.8 (for victims of domestic abuse); School Uniform Project (offering help with the cost of school uniforms) and Re-Work (helping those who are out of work as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic). Of these, the foodbank is considered to be the primary project; not only does it help the most people, but it’s often the initial point of contact – with users then being signposted to other SENT projects.


In 2021, the foodbank provided 123,000 meals – more than half of which were for children, and in the first six months of 2022 the other projects have helped more than 1,000 people. But now the UK is undoubtedly in the grip of a cost-of-living crisis, has the work, and the level of giving changed?


Catherine says: “The impact of the cost-of-living crisis is a reality for most people now – and we haven’t seen the worst of it yet. The people who were just getting by and making ends meet, many of them are starting to fall into debt, and that debt is getting just a little bit worse each month. They’re doing exactly what that were doing a year ago, but now, when they shop – for food, for petrol, everything has gone up in price – and it will get worse with the prospect of spiralling fuel bills this winter. The people who were already in poverty are being pushed deeper and deeper in – there are no more cuts that can be made.


“We’ve already started seeing more people using our services and we’re anticipating a further increase in the coming months. Our newest service users would not have been needing our services a few years, even a few months ago. And of course, the cost-of-living crisis is not just about a lack of money. There’s a real impact on their hope, on their mental health. This crisis is affecting the whole of a person.”

Following an upturn in giving – of both food and money – during the pandemic, Catherine says that SENT remains well supported. ”We have a very generous church and community, but I’m aware that, as things get worse, people may not be able to give so generously.”

Catherine points to the help that Stewardship’s online giving pages have been in allowing people to donate more easily to SENT’s work – describing it as “so simple and so effective. It’s been absolutely fantastic, and we’d wholeheartedly recommend it to others.”


Looking ahead, Catherine says that SENT’s strong belief that giving is a response to God’s grace towards his people and their understanding that people always respond better to vision than to need are key parts of their fundraising strategy. By sharing stories that show social action can help change lives, and by continuing to listen to where the need is and then strive to meet it, Catherine is hopeful that their future financial needs will be met.


She adds: “I pray we’ll be able to keep our hearts and eyes open to what is happening. That we will continue to be aware of areas where we can help and be effective. I can’t predict where that need will be – but my ongoing prayer is that we won’t miss it.”


* All names have been changed.


Article supplied by Stewardship. Stewardship is a Christian charity that’s helping a growing community of generous givers to connect with over 13,000 charities, churches, and individuals; partnering with them to raise and manage the resources they need to be effective in their missions. Find out more at Stewardship.org.uk.


---------


Have you read "Christian Social Action: making a difference where you are?" The Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP, who is the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Faith and Society says: "As hopeful as it is sobering, John Evans’ infectious vision, set out in his guide to outreach in the context of Christian fellowship, provides a stirring call to action. Here is a practical approach, post-pandemic, to help churches tackle the injustice around them. It draws on inspiration from history, but is clear-sighted about the emerging realities of poverty in Britain today, and the barriers faith groups face in addressing them. And it lays out clear steps for trustees and leaders to establish their vision, agree on a plan and convince others of the value of their work.”


You can obtain your copy here.

7 views0 comments
Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page