Bristol Churches City Fund April Update 2019
The Bristol Churches City Fund was set up in early 2018 to enable churches and individuals to demonstrate "extreme generosity", over and above their normal giving, in support of projects related to homelessness; refugees; food poverty; and debt support. The fund is administered through the George Müller Charitable Trust, providing governance over how funds are released to support key projects and initiatives across the Region.
By the end of June 2018 the fund had reached its initial target of £40,000, reaching about £42,000 by the time the funds were allocated. During June and July applications were received from potential projects, which the steering committee considered. Five projects were chosen, and each were allocated a different amount of funding. This funding has now been released to all five projects, with good progress being made in delivery.
Further information about these projects and what the Bristol City Churches Fund (BCCF) has enabled them to do is detailed below.
Refugee Welcome Homes (RWH)
RWH is a Christian organisation that offers housing and integration support for new refugees in Bristol. They aim to reduce homelessness by providing affordable (LHA rate), supportive shared accommodation for refugees as a first step in their new life in the UK. Through their partnerships and resettlement support they also help refugees access employment, education, debt and benefit advice.
Their model is to bring together refugee tenants, churches and landlords offering houses for affordable rent to enable positive refugee integration in Bristol. Currently, they manage two houses and one flat where nine refugee men are living from countries such as Rwanda, Iran, Sudan, Uganda, Afghanistan and Syria.
They have a small team with two part-time employees: a development manager and resettlement coordinator: both working one-day per week. The BCCF grant of £8,000 enabled them to fund those two part time roles for most of 2019, so that they can maintain the current work, but also identify additional landlords and churches to work with so that they can support more refugees.
St Luke’s Barton Hill
St Luke’s currently runs a free weekly lunch and breakfast drop-in for vulnerable members of the local community who can be homeless, suffering food poverty or lonely. Many are battling addiction and/ or mental health issues. They also run a Make Lunch scheme for local children in the school holidays who are suffering food poverty. The sessions involve a two-course healthy lunch and an hour of play. They work in partnership with Fareshare South West to provide the necessary food.
Their existing kitchen was coming to the end of its useful life and was not suitable for the volume of food required. It also gave no scope to extend the services. BCCF therefore provided a grant of £10,000, which, when combined with other grants and internal funds, enabled them to procure a commercial kitchen so that they can provide their existing services more effectively, and enabled them to extend their services to meet the ever-growing need.
The 5K Partnership is a charity that provides an umbrella for the foodbanks across Bristol. The four, independent church-based foodbanks in South Bristol lacked resources and support. It was a constant struggle to secure sustainable food supplies. Up to 200 people were fed each week, but the demand was much greater than this. The 5k Partnership has helped to coordinate the existing foodbanks and also create a fifth foodbank in Hartcliffe, all under the Trussell Trust franchise, which has extensive experience of operating foodbanks nationally. The five foodbanks will be supported by a food hub (warehouse) where food will be stored and distributed.
The BCCF grant of £9,000 will enable the food hub (shelving, storage, chill unit) to be established, pay a contribution towards running costs of the van and the hub, pay their joining fee and first 3 years subscription to Trussell Trust and contribute to the salaries for one or two part-time staff to organise food collections, transport food, and store/weigh/sort food at the hub.
The new integrated foodbanks will be able to reach significantly more families experiencing food poverty.
Severn Vineyard / Christians Against Poverty
The pastors of Severn Vineyard church had previously set up a Christians Against Poverty (CAP) Debt centre in Nottingham and wanted to set up a similar centre to service South Bristol to provide practical and holistic support for people struggling with debt.
Severn Vineyard already had a building which would be used to house the centre, but had no staff. The BCCF grant of £9,000 has enabled them to recruit a Debt Centre Manager, working 2 days a week, to set up and manage the centre in partnership with CAP and Severn Vineyard. The Debt Centre manager will support clients on their journey to becoming debt free through home visits and ongoing support. Volunteers from local Churches across South Bristol will also be a key part in delivering the service.
Clifton Refugee Community Sponsorship project
The Community Sponsorship Scheme (CSS) is the official Home Office supported scheme whereby local communities in this country can support and to help to integrate resettled refugees, particularly needy refugee families from Syria and the Middle East. It is strongly backed by the Churches, and where in operation already it has been extremely successful and fulfilling for all involved.
The Clifton Cathedral parish wanted to embark on the scheme and set up an active steering group to drive it forward. They liaised with other local churches which were already on the CSS journey and began to fundraise.
The BCCF grant of £6,000 has enabled them to raise the £9,000 which they required to apply for the scheme, and they have identified a suitable property where the family can be housed. This will enable one more family to escape from the trauma and suffering they are experiencing in a refugee camp and give them a future and a hope.
Four additional fund applications have been received since the initial tranche of projects and these are currently being held for consideration as part of the 2019 process. The revised target for 2019 is £100,000 and around £25,000 has been received to date. Fundraising will continue throughout the spring and early summer, alongside receipt of applications ahead of an expected deadline of midsummer. A process of reviewing applications and allocation of funds will take place in the autumn.
To find out more, donate or make an application, please visit - www.churchescityfund.org