Untitled design 1

December newsletter - Christmas message from our Chair of Trustees

"Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the end of the earth! Let the sea roar, and all that fills it, the coastlands and their inhabitants." Isaiah 42.10

793b655c 8446 b904 7372 97765e717c01

Rev Canon Dr Ellen Loudon reflects on Together Liverpool’s work in 2021, and shares exciting Network of Kindness news for 2022

It is with great joy that we share a wonderful gift this Christmas newsletter, with the announcement we have appointed a new Executive Director to help lead the expansion of the work of Together Liverpool.

Our staff and Trustees are delighted we will be welcoming Rev James Greento the team in Spring 2022, bringing with him a wealth of motivational leadership and community development experience, following four years as vicar at St Andrew’s church in Clubmoor.

We are blessed to have found in James an energetic and inspiring advocate for faith-based social justice who embodies the generous, collaborative and agile approach shared in our charitable vision, and we are excited for the growth this will mean for social justice work across the Diocese.

Revd James Green

James’ arrival will mark an exciting transition for our National Lottery funded Network of Kindness project as it enters its second year in April. This is emerging as a significant piece of work to enhance the capacity of the Churches' mission and neighbourliness to make a Bigger Difference, in particular tackling poverty and inequality through asset-based community development and sustainable social leadership.

2021 has seen an important crystallisation of our strategic approach to this work listening to those at the margins, connecting social action and people in communities, equipping people and projects to enhance their current practice, and influencing positive cultural and system changes that will work towards addressing the root causes of poverty and disadvantage.

Our Social Action Lead Officer Kate Eaglestone has begun rolling out Deanery-led church consultations with already more than 50 Social Action and Mission Plans developed with churches in Wigan and St Helens.

We have been encouraged time and again through 2021 by the enduring power of simple kindness to bring communities together. Despite another incredibly tough year with a spiralling cost of living crisis, ongoing toxicity of public discourse and resurgence of the pandemic, the stories we encounter continue to bring hope.

From Sefton and West Lancashire to Liverpool, Wigan, Warrington, Knowsley and St Helens and beyond, churches, community groups and charities have carried on networking kindness despite all the challenges we all face.

You can read some of these stories in our two Feast of Fun Impact reports from February half term and Summer 2021. Thank you to the hundreds of volunteers who came together to run 42 of these food-led community activities reaching 5,660 people including 3,314 children, and proving a vital catalyst for more social action. (Watch this space as we will have more grants to announce in early 2022.)

GW Ch

Inevitably our pandemic-response food insecurity work dominated much of 2021. Our Network of Kindness van Terri has been clocking up the miles supporting our Winter Boost project partners to boost 13,800 food parcelsduring the first quarter of the year, and continuing this winter to support emergency food provision via our partner charity Micah Liverpool.

Dingle P

We are privileged to be part of the expansion of food pantries, supporting the establishment of four of these new community food spaces in South Liverpool, and directly co-funding four new pantries to set up in Wigan. Together these eight pantries have saved more than £42,000 from the shopping bills of 1,059 members in the last three months alone (Sept-Nov 2021). Watch this space for news of four more pantries which we have directly co-funded to launch in St Helens in the New Year.

P Ledges montage pic

This growth is testament to the work of our former Food Insecurity lead Executive Dr Naomi Maynard who spread her wings this autumn to take on a new role as Good Food Programme Director at Feeding Liverpool, and we are excited to continue working in partnership.

It was wonderful to see many of you at the Good Food Plan pledge event which we co-hosted in November, and we encourage you to get involved by making your own pledge, and taking part in the food insecurity screening programme, as encouraged by Bishop Paul’s pledge.

RTM

As the world opened up we were also able to take part in events with speakers highlighting the spectrum of social justice work, including the Vigil for Peace, Micah Lecture, and Prisons Week lecture, all at Liverpool Cathedral.

It was one of the most uplifting sights to witness the arrival of more than 200 people from 50 churches delivering thousands of prayers for climate justice gathered from across the region, as the culmination of the Rise to the Moment: Relay to Cop26 – Merseyside’ pilgrimage walk in October.

Moment

Organised in partnership with Christian Aid North West, Faiths4Change, and the Young Christian Climate Network, this was the catalyst for us hosting a ‘Moment of Kindness’on the Cathedral plaza during the Liverpool Cop26 Coalition march as part of a global Day of Action, in November.

This brought more than 3,000 people to walk in solidarity across the city, and we were delighted to be joined by Bishop Paul to help us welcome the marchers with apples and music, and the response was most encouraging as we continue to support the Net Carbon Zero work of the Diocese.

One of the other things that has helped bring us together is technology and so thank you to all who have engaged with us on social media about this and other campaigns both locally and nationally, such as Reset the Debt, Stop the Traffik and Plenty to Share – more detail in our quarterly reports about other organisations we are networking with.

As we head into Christmas with uncertainty around Coronavirus and widespread financial insecurity, we know this will again be a difficult season for so many people living through injustice, grief and exhaustion.

Yet we remain filled with hope, as we look forward to working together for a more just world again in 2022. We thank you for your prayers for all in this Network of Kindness (if you are reading then this includes you!), for our staff and Trustees, and for James, his parish and family.

Happy Christmas, Ellen