Category: Thrive

Near Neighbours 2 – all you need to know.

Near Neighbours is back and includes more areas than before in the West Midlands. We have some new areas as well as our 13 wards and there is a new programme running in the Black Country.

Near Neighbours is a Government – funded programme which runs until March 2016.  It aims to bring people together; to meet, build friendship and work together to improve their neighbourhood.

Where does Near Neighbours work?
Near Neighbours funding is available in parts of London, Leicester, Birmingham and parts of Bradford, Oldham and Burnley, Leeds and Manchester, Nottingham and Luton.  Within Birmingham we cover most of Aston, Bordesley Green, Edgbaston, Hodge Hill, Ladywood, Lozells and East Handsworth, Moseley and Kings Heath, Stirchley, Handsworth Wood, Hamstead, Hall Green, Acocks Green, Billesley and Perry Barr.

What sort of projects get funding?
In phase one Near Neighbours in Birmingham gave away nearly £500,000 to 140 projects.  Activities supported by Near Neighbours range from volunteer-led job clubs to community meals, or from sporting events to debt counselling.  The fund will priorities applications from small faith-based groups with a turnover of less than £150,000 a year who are developing a new activity with people of different faiths.

How to apply?
All the information you need is on our website.  Your Near Neighbours development worker is on hand to help you with your application.  Jessica Foster can be contacted at jess@nearneighbours.com or by phone on 0121 675 1155.  Near Neighbours is part of Thrive Together Birmingham  and  is based at the Faithful Neighbourhoods Centre, 10 Court Road, Sparkhill, B11 4LX.  Please phone if you would like to make an appointment.

Welcoming the Stranger – Birmingham Churches Winter Night Shelter 2013

January 19th 2013 saw churches open their doors to homeless people and offer a bed to those who need it. Building on last year’s pilot, this year 6 hosts churches; 4 Church of England churches and 2 Baptist churches, offered shelter and hospitality for 6 weeks in January and February. The project was a collaboration of so many churches, projects and individuals. It included over 300 volunteers from a range of churches and traditions staffing the shelter; providing food, sleeping overnight and generally making guests feel at home. Guests were referred to the shelter by SIFA Fireside and also by outreach teams from Reach Out Network and Grace Bible Fellowship, who, as well as referring rough sleepers into the shelter, also met them at the pickup point and chaperoned them to the venues helping them to settle in.  Transport was provided by church projects and Shencare Community Transport along with volunteer drivers for each night, and at each venue there was a volunteer coordinator who managed the shift and food rotas. To date the project has provided shelter to 31 guests, and offered a warm place to sleep during what has been, at times, a bitterly cold couple of months.  Wonderfully, during their time with us, some of our guests have been able to find work and accommodation, and we have also been able to work with Midland Heart Homeless Services team to help guests access any support available to them.  One of our guests who had been homeless for 4 years, with the support from an experienced volunteer, was helped to make a successful homeless application which resulted in him being given accommodation. Thank you to all those who have given their time, resources, prayer, money and support to make this project such a great success in providing shelter, hospitality, friendship and support to those who have used the shelter this winter. It has been such a blessing to many guests and volunteers alike. However in terms of tackling homelessness it is only really scratching the surface in helping to address the issues that are faced by those sleeping rough. There is a strong desire from The Birmingham Christian Homeless Forum, Housing Justice and Thrive Together Birmingham to engage and help to mobilise churches and Christians who are passionate and committed to supporting homeless people. We are trying to do this by developing this and other projects, and to work with other voluntary and statutory organisations to be part of addressing the needs of homeless people face. For more information about how you can support this and other homeless projects please contact e.neill@HousingJustice.org.uk  or info@thrivetogetherbham.org

Health Ministry in Local Neighbourhoods – Parish Nursing Event in Balsall Heath

Last year Thrive Together Birmingham hosted a ‘Tackling Poverty’ event, offering resources and tools to churches wanting to address issues of poverty in their local neighbourhoods. One of the exhibitors was Parish Nursing UK, a Christian charity which helps local churches appoint nurses to support people and communities towards what they call “whole person healthcare”, which they describe as care for “body, mind and spirit”.
Their work is essentially about enabling registered nurses to combine their nursing skills with their faith and work with their local church to address some of the health needs of the local community. Thrive were keen to get them to Birmingham to inspire nurses to explore possibilities in their neighbourhoods, and on Saturday 22nd September we held an event at Balsall Heath Church Centre. Those attending who were already parish nurses shared their experience and told stories of churches hosting health drop-in’s, where people had their blood pressure checked over a cup of tea and chat, and where time to share and be listened to was prioritised, as well signposting and supporting people to access other health care services. Community breakfasts and lunches focused around highlighting particular health issues.  Cycling projects aimed at developing fitness, encouraging weight loss and encouraging self-esteem. Stories of relationships being built and friendships developing with frail and elderly people who had previously been reluctant to trust others; and of support and reassurance offered to frightened patients and families following difficult diagnoses. The event also offered opportunities for nurses and others attending to ask questions of members of the parish nursing UK team, church leaders and existing parish nurses.

If you are interested in exploring possibilities for using nursing skills in your local neighbourhood and would like more information contact Jennie Fytche at pnmukjenniefytche@btinternet.com

Birmingham Churches Winter Night Shelter 2013

Following the success of last years pilot churches winter night shelter in Birmingham, church leaders, outreach workers and others met at the Faithful Neighbourhood Centre to discuss a churches night shelter for this winter.

Last winter Churches from across Birmingham came together to provide shelter and hospitality to homeless people in Birmingham. Using the ‘roving shelter’ model devised by the Christian charity Housing Justice, the Birmingham Churches Winter Night Shelter was hosted by 5 churches on different nights of the week and provided a hot meal, friendship and hospitality, a bed for the night and breakfast.
Guests were offered a place at the shelter through a referral system which was coordinated by St Martin’s in the Bullring Help Desk with support from Reach Out Network, a Christian outreach team who also provided transport for guests to get to the shelter. This project was a great example of the Body of Christ working together in Birmingham to help those who really need it. The volunteers who staffed the shelter came not only from the host churches but from a wide variety of denominations and church traditions.
Those who used the shelter were so grateful that churches were offering them food and a bed for the night, but were equally grateful that volunteers took time to get to know them and made them feel comfortable and welcome, one guest said “it was nice to be given time to talk, it’s very rare you can sit down for a proper meal when you’re homeless”.
This winter there are plans for a 4 – 6 week shelter to start mid-January, and church hosts, volunteers, resources, and funding are now being sought.  For a copy of the  Pilot Winter Shelter Report 2012_more information contact Thrive Together Birmingham at info@thrivetogetherbham.org or

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