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Church caring campaign to 'share hope' attracts 20,000 responses

by
16 January 2015

by a staff reporter

iSTOCK

Grief: bereavement was one of the most common hurts shared

Grief: bereavement was one of the most common hurts shared

A CAMPAIGN run by a church to listen to people's troubles has received nearly 20,000 responses from members of the public in Norfolk and Suffolk.

The Who Cares? campaign was set up by the Christ Community Church in Attleborough, Norfolk, after it carried out a small survey asking people "What hurts the most?"

The Pastor, the Revd Rob Tervet, said that the church was "overwhelmed by how people opened up. They liked the fact we were listening to their needs and responding."

The issues raised in the survey were addressed in a series of talks and then compiled into a book - and the demand for this led to the project's being taken up by 60 churches across Norfolk and into Suffolk, and winning the support of the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James.

Nearly 20,000 people have now filled in the one-question survey, asking them to share their difficulties. In one town of 10,000 people, 1000 responded to the survey.

The most common hurts people shared are bereavement, physical suffering, relationship breakdowns, and disappointments.

Some of the comments from respondents included: "Struggling with the pain and loss of a loved one and struggling to find my fit in the world. How to move forward," and "Getting toward old age and feeling I haven't achieved as much with my life as I would have liked."

Mr Tervet said that the purpose of the campaign was to "share hope".

"Asking just one question doesn't make people open up. But it's a listening exercise, and it helps churches know what is relevant to people. It is holding up a mirror to the world, and helps people in church see the needs of the world around them.

"And we've found that people will come to church if we are addressing issues that are relevant to their lives. We had one couple who had filled in the survey come along when we did a talk on relationship breakdown - and they have stayed with us and come to faith.

"Congregations usually don't need encouragement to do good, as they are doing it already; but they can struggle to share hope and to share the gospel.

"Churches have responded in practical ways, too - one group of churches found that people were most concerned about death and bereavement, and so got together with funeral directors in the area to see how they could work better together."

A "wall" of responses was created in Norwich, and people stopped to read them, some in tears, he said.

The project has taken congregations on a journey as they open up to the needs of people around them, Mr Tervet said.

Groups of parishioners have also been trained to offer one-to-one support and advice to people responding to the survey, if it is requested. Churches involved are now training congregations outside the region who want to take up the project.

www.who-cares.org.uk

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