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Hereford diocese to share in £1.3m pot for communities

05 August 2022

Diocese of Hereford

Foodshare project at St Martin’s, Hereford

Foodshare project at St Martin’s, Hereford

THE diocese of Hereford is among the 16 faith-based organisations to be allocated a share of £1.3 million of government funding to support communities.

The “new deal” pilot fund, from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities, was announced last Friday. The grants, which range from £7000 to £200,000, are to support Christian, Jewish, and interfaith projects which are working with councils, schools, police, health providers, and voluntary groups to tackle social issues. This includes debt and unemployment, food poverty, mental ill-health, and loneliness and isolation.

Simon Vaughan WinterSt Peter’s, Peterchurch, Herefordshire

Hereford Diocesan Board of Finance is to receive £38,630. The money will be used to continue the support provided by churches during Covid lockdowns. This includes a pilot project to use churches as “Talk Community Hubs”: places for community-based support for mental well-being, including activities for “reflection and mindfulness” in a safe space. Support would also be brought to the homes of people who are unable to travel.

Existing diocesan partnerships, with foodbanks, debt counselling, Good Neighbour schemes, and Compassionate Communities schemes, among others, would also benefit from the funding, as would the Foodshare project, café, and activities at St Martin’s, Hereford; mental-health GP-support services run by the Christian charity LEAF Ledbury; and well-being walks organised by St Peter’s, Peterchurch.

The Diocesan Secretary, Sam Pratley, said on Tuesday: “We know that people of all ages in rural communities want services on their doorstep; transport links are limited, and the increasing cost of fuel places strain on household budgets, which are already stretched to the limit. This often means people choose not to seek the help they need.”

Using churches to reach small rural communities, he said, was “a potentially hugely cost-effective way of reaching tens of thousands of people. . . This is what the Church does well, and, for the many volunteers, it is often an expression of their Christian faith.”

The Cinnamon Network was awarded £51,693 for its church mental-well-being and loneliness project in Cambridge. A statement from the Network on Monday described the application process as “very competitive”. It would use the money to develop free training, resources, and support for churches across Cambridgeshire on responding to loneliness in the community. A well-being-and-loneliness event was also being planned for its civic and church partners.

The pilot will run until January 2023.

The director of communications of the Cinnamon Network, Kate Sharma, said: “We hope that this work can inspire churches and partners from towns and cities across the UK to get involved in addressing poor mental health and combating isolation and loneliness with professionalism and compassion.”

Two of the larger grants went to individual churches: City Life Church, Southampton, was allocated £109,000, while Edmonton Methodist Church, in north London, was awarded £78,200. Other recipients include the Faith and Belief Forum, which has been allocated £41,049 for its Multi-Faith Action Hub; and Interfaith Wolverhampton, which was awarded £124,842 for its Faith & Community Connected project.

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